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For the love of experience


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Auteur J.M.C. Snel
Titel For the love of experience: changing the experience economy discourse
Promotor R. Maes
Datum 07-09-2011
Jaar 2011
Pagina's 484
ISBN 978-90-8891-308-2
Faculteit Faculteit Economie en Bedrijfskunde
Samenvatting The attention for experiences as economic offerings has increased enormously in the last decade. However, the lack of a clear definition of experience and the bias towards the organization’s perspective in the discourse cause much confusion. In this study experience is taken back to its basis: the encounter between an individual and his or her environment. Different concepts, effects and values of experience are defined to construct a more integrative discourse for the experience economy from the individual’s perspective. To reap the benefits that the experience economy offers, the role of organizations has to change from a directing and controlling one to a more supporting and facilitating one. A true recognition of the co-creation that takes place in experiences shows how much latent potential for creating value there is yet to discover.

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  • 1. 2
  • 2. FOR THE LOVE OF EXPERIENCECHANGING THE EXPERIENCE ECONOMY DISCOURSE ACADEMISCH PROEFSCHRIFT ter verkrijging van de graad van doctor aan de Universiteit van Amsterdam op gezag van de Rector Magnificus prof. dr. D.C. van den Boom ten overstaan van een door het college voor promoties ingestelde commissie, in het openbaar te verdedigen in de Aula der Universiteit op woensdag 7 september 2011, te 13:00 uur door Johanna Maria Christina Snel geboren te Nijmegen 3
  • 3. PromotiecommissiePromotor: Prof. dr ir R. MaesOverige leden: Prof. dr J.J. Boonstra Dr A. Huizing Prof. dr L. Introna Prof. dr M.W. de Jong Prof. dr A. KlamerFaculteit Economie en Bedrijfskunde© 2011, Anna Snel. All rights reservedISBN: 978-90-8891-308-2Published by Anna Snel ( by Boxpress, OisterwijkCover Design: Zeeman + Beemster, Amsterdam 4
  • 4. ContentsContents ........................................................................................................................ 5Preface and Acknowledgements.................................................................................. 14CHAPTER 1 Research outline................................................................................... 22 1.1 Introduction and research objective ................................................................. 24 1.2 Research questions............................................................................................ 32 1.3 Structural outline of the thesis........................................................................... 36 1.4 Contributions .................................................................................................... 38CHAPTER 2 Research context.................................................................................. 42 2.1 Introduction ...................................................................................................... 44 2.2 Experiences as a sign of a dematerializing economy ........................................ 46 2.3 Three approaches of the concept of experience ............................................... 54 2.4 Research problem: Experience economy as a means for decommoditization . 67 2.4.1 Bias and gaps in the environment-centred approach of the experience economy.............................................................................................................. 67 2.4.2 Bias and gaps in the effect-centred approach of the experience economy 78 2.4.3 Bias and gaps in the encounter-centred approach of the experience economy.............................................................................................................. 89 2.4.4 Towards a sound and integrative theoretical foundation for the experience economy............................................................................................................ 103CHAPTER 3 Experience concepts in an integrative theory .................................... 108 3.1 Introduction .................................................................................................... 110 3.2 Definitions of experience................................................................................. 111 3.2.1 From secondary to primary experience ................................................... 112 3.2.2 Vicarious experience................................................................................ 119 3.2.3 From primary experience to subjective response..................................... 132 5
  • 5. 3.2.4 From Erlebnissen to Erfahrungen............................................................ 136 3.2.5 From meaningful experiences to integrative experiences ........................ 146 3.3 Conclusion: The spectrum of Experience-concepts........................................ 150CHAPTER 4 Effects of experience in an integrative theory .................................... 154 4.1 Introduction .................................................................................................... 156 4.2 From hedonic effects towards a broader view on psychological effects .......... 157 4.2.1 Critique on hedonic effects ...................................................................... 159 4.2.2 The eudaimonic alternative for hedonism............................................... 166 4.2.3 The spectrum of psychological effects of experience. .............................. 170 4.3 Limitations of managing effects in general ..................................................... 172 4.3.1 The construction of meaning ................................................................... 174 4.3.2 Problems related to externally directed meaning .................................... 176 4.4 Convergence versus divergence in relation to effects...................................... 182 4.4.1 A broader perspective of convergence ..................................................... 183 4.4.2 Convergence and divergence in the context of creating meaning........... 185 4.4.3 Supporting divergent learning ................................................................. 189 4.5 Conclusion ...................................................................................................... 197CHAPTER 5 Values of experience in an integrative theory.................................... 200 5.1 Introduction .................................................................................................... 202 5.2 Appropriateness of traditional theories on value determination in an experience context................................................................................................................... 203 5.2.1 Value as perception minus expectation ................................................... 205 5.2.2 Value as rivalrous and excludable ........................................................... 212 5.2.3 Value invested as cost or as benefit.......................................................... 218 5.2.4 The use of traditional ways of evaluating economic offerings for experiences........................................................................................................ 225 5.3 The value theory of Ralph Barton Perry ........................................................ 227 5.3.1 Objects of interest: expectations included................................................ 228 5.3.2 Practical and non-practical interests as an alternative for rivalry and excludability ...................................................................................................... 231 6
  • 6. Contents 5.3.3 Internally practical and non-practical investments.................................. 233 5.4 Roles for organizations in an experience context ........................................... 235 5.5 Conclusion ...................................................................................................... 242CHAPTER 6 Research design ................................................................................. 250 6.1 Introduction .................................................................................................... 252 6.2 Epistemological orientation: Interpretivism.................................................... 253 6.3 Research strategy: From Case research to Grounded Theory to Phenomenology..................................................................................................... 257 6.4 Data collection and analysis ............................................................................ 260 6.4.1 Data collection ......................................................................................... 260 6.4.2 Data analysis ............................................................................................ 264 6.5 Evaluation ....................................................................................................... 266CHAPTER 7 Analysis of interviews on free choice learning experiences ................ 272 7.1 Introduction .................................................................................................... 274 7.2 Engagement .................................................................................................... 276 7.2.1 Talking about it........................................................................................ 278 7.2.2 Relation versus Calculation ..................................................................... 281 7.2.3 Being pulled by your feathers .................................................................. 288 7.2.4 Knitted cloth ............................................................................................ 293 7.2.5 Lessons to be learned related to engagement .......................................... 303 7.3 Direction ......................................................................................................... 306 7.3.1 Not getting on that bus ............................................................................ 307 7.3.2 The image of the sower............................................................................ 313 7.3.3 Here’’s a bike and go ................................................................................ 319 7.3.4 What movie you’’re in .............................................................................. 324 7.3.5 Lessons to be learned related to direction................................................ 334 7.4 Investment....................................................................................................... 338 7.4.1 Knowledge from out of the wall .............................................................. 339 7.4.2 Pressure-cooker ........................................................................................ 345 7
  • 7. 7.4.3 Climbing frame ........................................................................................ 349 7.4.4 New oxygen ............................................................................................. 353 7.4.5 Lessons to be learned related to investment ............................................ 359 7.5 Conclusion ...................................................................................................... 364CHAPTER 8 Conclusion ......................................................................................... 366 8.1 Introduction .................................................................................................... 368 8.2 Theoretical foundation for the experience economy ...................................... 369 8.3 Offsetting the bias in the experience economy discourse in the field of educational experiences ........................................................................................ 373 8.3.1 Offsetting the bias in the experience economy discourse: attention for Erfahrung .......................................................................................................... 373 8.3.2 Offsetting the bias in the experience economy discourse: attention for deep effects................................................................................................................. 382 8.3.3 Offsetting the bias in the experience economy discourse: attention for Erfahrungs-investments: ................................................................................... 390 8.4 Implications of this research for experience organizations in general ............ 400 8.5 Discussion and recommendations for further research................................... 408Epilogue and Reflection ............................................................................................ 414Bibliography .............................................................................................................. 435English Summary ...................................................................................................... 473Nederlandse samenvatting ........................................................................................ 477APPENDIX A: Descriptions of experiences discussed during interviews................. 481APPENDIX B: Interview questions and themes....................................................... 483 8
  • 8. ContentsFiguresFigure 1.1 –– Progression of Value (Pine and Gilmore, 1999, p.72) ...........................................25Figure 1.2 –– The objectivistic perspective within the three approaches of experience........................30Figure 1.3 –– Research model according to Verschuren and Doorewaard (1998) ...........................35Figure 1.4 –– Research outline.................................................................................................36Figure 2.1 –– Three processes that are part of dematerialization ..................................................47Figure 2.2 –– Dematerialization of economic offerings (after Pine & Gilmore, 1999)....................48Figure 2.3 –– Environment-centred definitions of experience, with distinction between core andconditions .............................................................................................................................60Figure 2.4 –– Effect-centred definitions of experience, with distinction between core and conditions...62Figure 2.5 –– Encounter-centred definitions of experience, with distinction between core and conditions...........................................................................................................................................64Figure 2.6 –– Three components of the definition of experience .....................................................65Figure 2.7 –– Aspects of experiences in a broader context of dematerialization................................66Figure 2.8 –– Scale of market entities (Shostack, 1977, p. 77) ...................................................70Figure 2.9 –– Goods-Services-Experience Continuum (O’’Sullivan & Spangler, 1998, p. 19) ........71Figure 2.10 –– The weight of objective features versus subjective responses in consumption experiences(Addis and Holbrook, 2001, p. 58) .......................................................................................83Figure 2.11 –– The emotion process (based on Desmet and Hekkert model of product emotions (Desmetet. al., 2001)) ......................................................................................................................86Figure 2.12 –– The activity dimension......................................................................................90Figure 2.13 –– Continuums of interactivity (Shedroff, 1994) ......................................................91Figure 2.14 –– The experience realms (Pine & Gilmore, 1999, p.30).........................................95Figure 2.15 –– Levels of intensity with which insideness and outsideness are experienced (based onRelph, 1976, pp. 50-55)......................................................................................................96Figure 2.16 –– Change in value exchanges between organization and individual ......................... 103Figure 3.1 –– Vicarious experiences are an in-between type of experiences, between primary andsecondary experiences. ......................................................................................................... 120 9
  • 9. Figure 3.2 –– Primary experience versus mediated vicarious experience ....................................... 124Figure 3.3 –– Observational vicarious experiences ................................................................... 126Figure 3.4 –– Simulated and immersive vicarious experience ..................................................... 128Figure 3.5 –– Tree diagram of varieties of vicarious experience.................................................. 130Figure 3.6 –– Experiential Learning Cycle (Kolb, 1984) ........................................................ 139Figure 3.7 –– The temporal difference between an Erlebnis and an Erfahrung............................ 145Figure 3.8 –– Differences in impact between meaningful and integrative experiences..................... 149Figure 3.9 –– The spectrum of experience-concepts .................................................................. 151Figure 4.1 –– Convergent and Divergent problems after Laurel’’s Flying Wedge (1993)............... 182Figure 4.2 –– Spectrum of experience concepts related to surface and deep approaches to learning... 190Figure 4.3 –– The Self-Determination Continuum showing types of motivation with their regulatorystyles and perceived loci of causality (Ryan & Deci, 2000, p.72) ........................................... 192Figure 4.4 –– Locus of causality for different concepts of experience ........................................... 195Figure 5.1 –– Customer Value Equation (Heskett et al, 1997, p.40) ....................................... 203Figure 5.2 –– Expectations of SEC- characteristics in different phases of the consumption process. 211Figure 5.3 –– Rivalry/ Excludability matrix ......................................................................... 213Figure 5.4 –– Dematerialization causes a shift towards non-rivalry........................................... 215Figure 5.5 –– Forces working for and against excludability ...................................................... 216Figure 5.6 –– Change in commerce because of growing role of individuals................................... 220Figure 5.7 –– Virtuous cycle of human capital (after Ratchford’’s (2001) theory of Human Capital)........................................................................................................................................ 224Figure 5.8 –– Focus on non-rivalry because of non-practical nature of experience-interests............ 232Figure 5.9 –– Modes of Encounter (based on Seamon, 1979) .................................................. 237Figure 5.10 –– Connection between first role for organizations and conceptualizations of experience........................................................................................................................................ 245Figure 5.11 –– Connection between second role for organizations and conceptualizations of experience........................................................................................................................................ 247Figure 5.12 –– Connection between third role for organizations and conceptualizations of experience........................................................................................................................................ 248 10
  • 10. ContentsFigure 7.1 –– Main and subthemes emerged from interviews..................................................... 275Figure 7.2 –– Engagement and subthemes .............................................................................. 277Figure 7.3 –– Elements of subtheme ‘‘Talking about it’’ ............................................................ 278Figure 7.4 –– Elements of subtheme ‘‘Relation vs. calculation’’ .................................................. 283Figure 7.5 –– Elements of subtheme ‘‘Being pulled by your feathers’’........................................... 289Figure 7.6 –– Elements of subtheme ‘‘Knitted cloth’’ ................................................................. 294Figure 7.7 –– Lessons to be learned in relation to Engagement .................................................. 304Figure 7.8 –– Direction and subthemes .................................................................................. 307Figure 7.9 –– Elements of subtheme ‘‘Not getting on that bus’’ ................................................... 308Figure 7.10 –– Elements of subtheme ‘‘The image of the sower’’................................................. 314Figure 7.11 –– Elements of subtheme ‘‘Here’’s a bike and go’’ .................................................... 320Figure 7.12 –– Elements of subtheme ‘‘What movie you’’re in’’................................................... 325Figure 7.13 –– Lessons to be learned in relation to Direction .................................................... 335Figure 7.14 –– Investment and subthemes .............................................................................. 338Figure 7.15 –– Elements of subtheme ‘‘Knowledge from out of the wall’’ ..................................... 340Figure 7.16 –– Elements of subtheme ‘‘Pressure cooker’’ ............................................................ 346Figure 7.17 –– Elements of subtheme ‘‘Climbing frame’’ ........................................................... 351Figure 7.18 –– Elements of subtheme ‘‘New oxygen’’ ................................................................ 354Figure 7.19 –– Lessons to be learned in relation to Investment .................................................. 359 11
  • 11. TablesTable 1.1 –– Examples of progression of value towards experience economy (based on Pine & Gilmore,1998, p.97; 1999, p.1) .......................................................................................................26Table 2.1 –– Definitions of experience that are focused on what is experienced ...............................59Table 2.2 –– Definitions of experience that are focused on the effects for the individual ...................61Table 2.3 –– Definitions of experience that are focused on the encounter between individual andenvironment ..........................................................................................................................63Table 2.4 –– Overview of problems related to the three approaches of experience.......................... 106Table 3.1 –– Characteristics of the shift from secondary experiences to primary experiences........... 117Table 3.2 –– Examples of vicarious experiences and the determination of the type of experience ..... 131Table 3.3 –– Characteristics of the shift from primary experiences to emotional experiences........... 134Table 3.4 –– Ways of dealing with situations and the experiences that result from these .............. 141Table 3.5 –– Characteristics of the shift from Erlebnis to Erfahrung ......................................... 145Table 4.1 –– Human Motivations according to McGuire (1974, p. 172) ................................ 163Table 4.2 –– Psychological effects for different concepts of experience ......................................... 170Table 4.3 –– Definitions of experience that are focused on the effects for the individual ................ 171Table 4.4 –– Learning effects for different concepts of experience ............................................... 189Table 4.5 –– Spectrum of experience effects ............................................................................ 198Table 5.1 –– Problems related to the organizational perspective in the encounter-centred approach. 204Table 5.2 –– Insights from Perry’’s (1954) value theory related to the problems of the experience-encounter ........................................................................................................................... 228Table 5.3 –– Roles for organizations in the experience-economy ................................................ 235Table 6.1 –– Evaluation criteria for quantitative and qualitative research (based on Lincoln and Guba,1985) .............................................................................................................................. 267 12
  • 12. ContentsTable 7.1 –– Seven categories of lessons for organizations dealing with experiences...................... 363Table 8.1 –– Theoretical foundation for the experience economy............................................... 372 13
  • 13. P R E FAC E A N D 14
  • 14. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTSAn inspiring conversation isas stimulating as espressoand just as hard to sleep after.A F T E R A N N E M O R R OW L I N D B E R G H ,GIFT FROM THE SEA,1955 15
  • 15. This dissertation contains the result of almost 10 years of studying the experienceeconomy. What started with a nagging feeling that there had to be more about thiseconomy than what was often described in theory and discussed and implemented inpractice has finally resulted in the answers I was looking for.The title of this dissertation, ‘‘For the love of experience’’, was not just chosen becauselove is often connected to the colour pink, so that I would have a good excuse to makea pink cover. Everyone who knows me also knows that I need no excuses to makeanything pink. Instead, the title was inspired by the name that the artist Damien Hirstgave to his diamond-covered skull: ‘‘For the love of God’’, allegedly based on aquestion his mother asked him: ““For the love of God, what are you going to do next?””‘‘For the love of God’’ has evoked strong emotional reactions and controversy thatreminded me of reactions to the experience economy. Reactions to the alleged sale ofthe work and the marketing around it spawned great controversy on the commercialnature of the art piece. The commercial focus of the experience economy has alsobeen something that has often been met with strong negative emotions, for examplewhen a piece of the public domain was fenced off to make it into a paid-forexperience. Reactions to the exploitation of a piece of a human body, in the name ofart, were in line with reactions to the alleged exploitation of human emotions in theexperience economy. Finally, the idea of extravagantly decorating something that initself is often considered ugly I recognized in the many efforts of organizations to‘‘funnify’’ or bling regular products and services and then call them experiences.The critique on the commercial and marketing interpretations of what experienceentails have often made me think seriously about dropping the term for once and forall. But every time in the end I decided not to do this. Notwithstanding the inflation ofthe word experience and the misuse of it in many cases, experience has been aroundfor longer than the people who don’’t use the word in a proper way. Experience isabout people, about meaning, about learning, about value. For the love of ‘‘experience’’ 16
  • 16. Preface and Acknowledgementsgiving up on the term was not an option. Repairing the existing bias in thediscourse on experiences was.The ‘‘love’’ in ‘‘for the love of experience’’ also denotes one other important aspectof my fascination for the topic. Love doesn’’t only make the world go round, but itis also one of the things in life you can’’t control. It is my strong conviction thatexperiences cannot be produced, managed, sold or directed either. You canhowever do your best to support, facilitate, and help people in having theirexperiences. You can also do your best to hinder, prevent and ruin the experiences ofpeople. This lack of complete control is not new but somehow many people are stillunder the impression that they do have control over things like these. I always uselove to explain how I see it. You cannot force someone to love you; it is the loved onewho decides whether he or she will love you back. You can however do many thingsthat result in the loved one not loving you anymore. The same goes for experience. Itis the individual who decides whether he or she has an experience and what type ofexperience it is. But you can do all sorts of things to make sure the experience will nothappen or that it will be a bad experience.And obviously: I could have never stayed focused and inspired and enthusiastic aboutthis topic for all this time if it hadn’’t been for my love of experience.As I will explain in this dissertation, basically an experience is an encounter of anindividual with his or her environment. For the most part my experience was anencounter of me with my computers, books and articles, pens and paper and when Iwas completely lost a paintbrush and canvas, but fortunately my environmentconsisted also of many people that have made my experience into what it has been. Icannot name all, but I want to express my gratitude to some who have coloured myexperience brightly and made it definitely more fun and meaningful for me.I would like to start with Rik Maes, my promotor. I remember that at the beginningof this endeavor I thought that it would take me three years to finish. Unfortunately Iexpressed this thought, and not unconvincingly because I believe you even bet somewine on it. Sorry Rik, I owe you. But although it took me longer I always felt youtrusted that I would somehow, one day, finish and I appreciated your trusting way ofsupervising. I also want to say thank you for starting the European Centre for the 17
  • 17. Experience Economy together with Joe Pine and Albert Boswijk, which ended upfinancing the first couple of years of this study and brought me in contact with manypeople who are working in the field of experience. You know that I was kind ofsurprised about, but also very grateful for the trust you had when you asked me tocoordinate the EMIM-program. This work gave me the opportunity to discover that Iam much more organized than I thought I was and to execute the insights I hadthanks to this research. The incredibly pleasant cooperation has given us theopportunity to get to know each other much better and I also want to thank your wifeSimone for the immense hospitality all those times we had meetings at your house. Iam more than glad that even though this dissertation is finished, we will continue towork together on making the world more meaningful and inspiring. And having a lotof fun along the way!I am still waiting for my pink ostrich feather boa though……Then there is Erik de Vries who in all these years I have always blamed for being theinstigator of this whole project so the least I can do is to finally thank him for this. Erikhas kind of been a linking pin for all sorts of events that have led up to today: ourshared interest in the service economy after I came back from Italy, the guest lectureson online service quality and flow experiences you allowed me to give in your courseat the University of Amsterdam, my filling in for you when Joe Pine became a visitingprofessor and came to present his book ‘‘The experience economy’’, and bringing meinto contact with Rik. I seriously think that the omission of just one of these thingswould have led to me never having done this research.The same thing of course goes for Joe Pine and Jim Gilmore. I have never met Jimbut have been assured that he exists, and I have had the chance to meet Joe Pine onseveral occasions during this period. If you hadn’’t coined the term experienceeconomy and written an article and book about it, I seriously doubt that thisdissertation would have ever seen the light of day. Often the thought crossed my mind:what if this experience economy proves to be a hype, a passing fad, what will I dothen? But I believe we can safely say that experiences are here to stay, which alsoshows from the update on your book ‘‘The experience economy’’ that you havepublished this summer. 18
  • 18. Preface and AcknowledgementsPersons who have without a doubt changed my perspective on experience were ofcourse the alumni I interviewed who had completed their educational experienceat SIOO, Kaos Pilot or the EMIM-program. I have promised you anonymity butyou know who you are and I want to thank all of you for inviting me to yourhomes and offices and for the time you all took, up to 4 ½ hours (!), for telling meabout your experiences, sometimes on a very personal level for which I amincredibly grateful! I hope I have done justice to what you have taught me!Mijke, Anniek, Marjolijn and Edith: you were my checks and balances for the codingprocess of the interviews. Thanks for all the work you have put in this process, to givefeedback on the themes, and I wish you all the best with your own research. Hope tosee you soon in the Netherlands again!Then there are the recent and current participants in EMIM who I sincerely want tothank, together with all the people who work hard at making this a wonderfulprogram, like the organizers, teachers, the supervisors and coaches, the examinationcommittee and the Creative Board. You all have been a great inspiration for the waysin which many of the ideas and insights that were derived from the interviews wereimplemented in practice. My work often seems like leisure with all the fun, inspirationand beautiful moments we shared and it has been and still is a privilege to know youall. I hope, as I say at the end of chapter 8 that we will stay in touch for a long time tocome. And for those who haven’’t finished their Master Proof yet: chop chop!I am grateful to the students that have followed courses I have taught at theUniversity of Amsterdam. You can read about learning and teaching for the rest ofyour life but this will never teach you as much as the experience of standing in front ofa class of students and trying to motivate, inspire, enthuse and educate them. Before Inever knew that I would love teaching so much and that I was a proud owner of a‘‘juffenhart’’.Also the students of the Executive Courses of the European Centre for the ExperienceEconomy have been a great audience. They have helped me during the very firstyears of this research to understand the field and to develop my line of thinking. Allthe examples from practice have absolutely helped in getting my initial ideas in order. 19
  • 19. I want to thank the PhD committee for their very valuable feedback on my work. Allhave, knowingly or unknowingly, influenced my thoughts and insights on experiencethrough the years: Prof. dr J.J. Boonstra in the context of change processes in whichthe individual is put in the centre of business, Dr A. Huizing in the context of howmeaning is shared in communities and the importance of immaterial values, Prof. drL. Introna in the context of phenomenology and technologically mediated vicariousexperiences, Prof. dr M.W. de Jong in the context of the service economy and Prof. drA. Klamer in the context of cultural and social values.Monique Beemster was the first designer who understood immediately what I meantwhen I told that I wanted ““a design for my cover, I don’’t know, something with pinkand experience””. She has not only designed the cover and everything that’’s pink inthis dissertation but has also relentlessly worked with me to finish the project. Youprobably know more about Word now than you would have liked to know but youhave succeeded in making the stressy completion of this experience a lot more relaxedfor me and I absolutely love the result, Monique!My friends deserve the credits for keeping me kind of sane this whole period. It’’s veryeasy to have all the fun sucked out of parties and events when there’’s someone in yourmidst who keeps explaining how a venue could be much more successful if they wouldonly change this or that, or who tries to recognize parts of theories everywhere. Butyou have always listened patiently to my brainwaves and acted like you completelyunderstood my enthusiasm about ““brilliant”” Eureka-moments, even when I didn’’tfully understood yet what they meant ;-).A special thanks goes to my paranymphs Patricia and Berry. Patricia has been mypartner in crime for almost 20 years when it comes to everything that is over the top,and has been the source of many very memorable experiences. Our ‘‘therapeuticpainting’’ session has been the cause of me grabbing my paintbrush and canvas everytime I got completely lost in the details of my research so you are partly responsiblefor the many Eureka-experiences that I have had. But above all, you are a wonderfulfriend, a beautiful person and I hope we’’ll enjoy many more over the top experiencestogether! 20
  • 20. Preface and AcknowledgementsBerry has without a doubt been the most precious gift that the study of experiencehas given me. We met because of Zumba, got to know each other because of ourmutual interest in the world of experience and became friends because of all thehilarious fun and the many things we have in common. Thanks for always beingthere for me, for sharing your eye for detail and experience in the world of events,for helping me with my website, for not hanging up, for kickstarting many of mydays with a soundtrack, for sending me out of the Pijp and giving me directions inAmsterdam as if I were a tourist, for lack of words: thanks for being you andthanks for being my friend.Last but certainly not least I want to thank my family. Robert and Natasja who havealways been supportive of my endeavors and who have given me the great honour tobe the aunt and godmother of Rosan, Rolf and Noud, three little persons who puteverything in perspective. Finally I will have more time to spend with all of you! Andof course my parents who have had the patience while I was studying as well as whileI was doing this research, two periods in which I have absolutely not been worthy ofmy last name ;-). You definitely are the most supportive parents anyone can have. Iknow how proud you all are and I love you dearly.These and many more people, too many to name them all explicitly, have made myexperience unforgettable and I want to thank them all. I also kind of hope that someof them will be able to answer the question, to paraphrase Daniel Hirst’’s mother:For the love of God, what am I going to do next? Anna Snel July, 2011 21
  • 21. C HAPT E R 1 The most difficult subjects can be explained to the most slow-witted man if he has not formed any idea of them already; but the simplest thing cannot be made clear to the most intelligent man if he is firmlypersuaded that he knows already, without a shadow of doubt, what is laid before him. L E O T O L S T OY, THE KINGDOM OF GOD, 1894 22
  • 22. Researchoutline 23
  • 23. 1.1 INTRODUCTION AND RESEARCH OBJECTIVEWhat do education on autism1, a website for jeans2, tents on a camping site3, giftvouchers for bungee jumping4, funeral services5, a dinner in a hot air balloon6, a carshowroom7, an MRI scanner for children8, mascara9 and a venue for cookingworkshops10 have in common?The answer to this question is that these are some examples of what nowadays iscalled an ‘‘experience’’.In the last decade the term ‘‘experience’’ has proliferated in areas as diverse asmarketing, design, hospitality, education, architecture, tourism, human-computerinteraction, retail, museums, healthcare, landscaping and travel, and this list isexpanding all the time. What the uses of the term experience in these diverse areashave in common is that attention is growing for the role of the customer. Thisdevelopment has been termed the emergence of the ‘‘Experience Economy’’ in aHarvard Business Review article in 1998, by Joseph Pine II and Jim Gilmore. ““As1 Multimedia theatre ‘‘Het Hoofdkwartier’’ (, the ultimate jeans experience ( Safaritent of Eurocamp( Total Experience gifts vouchers ( Brandexperience in funeral industry (Rust zacht, plakje cake (Rest in peace, piece of cake) (Enklaar, 2008))6 CuliAir Hot Air Balloon Restaurant ( Peugeot Experience ( Philips’’ Panorama scanner in an ambient suite( Max Factor Xperience volumising mascara ( Miele Inspirience Centre ( 24
  • 24. 1 | Research outlinegoods and services become commoditized, the customer experiences that companiescreate will matter most”” (Pine & Gilmore, 1998, p. 97) (see figure 1.1). Differentiated Stage Relevant to Customization Experiences Deliver Services Competitive Needs of Position Make Customers Goods Commoditization Extract Commodities Undifferentiated Irrelevant to Market Pricing PremiumFigure 1.1 –– Progression of Value (Pine and Gilmore, 1999, p.72)Based on the argument that goods and services have become or are rapidly becomingcommoditized, Pine and Gilmore claim that companies need to focus more on thecustomer and offer experiences as distinct economic offerings to be able todifferentiate themselves from the competition. The raison d’’être of the experienceeconomy is then the need to decommoditize economic offerings, hereby maintainingor increasing profit margins and making sure that customers choose economicofferings not solely based on price.Attention for decommoditization and the customer’’s role in interactions withcompanies already increased when the economy shifted from an industrial economyto a service economy. In the industrial economy organizations offered utility to acustomer, who paid money in return. In the service economy on the other hand, theoffering to the customer did not consist of mere utility anymore, but also of theprocess of service delivery. In return, attention was not merely paid to the price of the 25
  • 25. service, but also to other costs of acquiring the service, like the time and effort it takesto acquire the service. In the experience economy companies have to do even more.They have to create or ‘‘stage’’ memorable experiences and evoke emotions in theircustomers, and allegedly the customer will pay more money for these experiences.Two famous examples of this progression of value are shown in table 1.1.BIRTHDAY CAKE EXAMPLEEconomic Commodities Goods Services Experiencesofferings Making Betty Crocker Ordered cakes from ““Outsource”” the birthday cakes premixed the bakery or entire event to Chuck from scratch, ingredients grocery store E. Cheese’’s, the mixing farm Discovery Zone, the commodities Mining Company, or (flour, sugar, some other business butter, and eggs)Price Mere dimes Dollar or two $10 or $15 $100 or moreCOFFEE EXAMPLEEconomic Commodities Goods Services Experiencesofferings The coffee bean Manufacturer Brew the beans in a Five-star restaurant, grinds, packages diner, coffee-shop, espresso bar and sells the same bodega beans in a grocery storePrice One or two Between 5 and 25 50 cents to a dollar $2-$5 per cup cents a cup cents a cup per cupTable 1.1 –– Examples of progression of value towards experience economy (based on Pine & Gilmore, 1998,p.97; 1999, p.1)The increased attention for the customer can not only be recognized in theoriesreferring to experiences, but is also alluded to in literature in which the emergence ofa dream society, an attention economy, an empathy economy, an entertainmenteconomy and an emotion economy is described (e.g. Jensen, 1999; Davenport & Beck,2001; Nussbaum, 2005; Wolf, 1999; Maes & Parson, 2000), but in the end one can 26
  • 26. 1 | Research outlinerecognize the growing attention for the customer’’s role as a result of the risk ofcommoditization as a basic principle of all these concepts.Although attention for experiences has increased enormously in the last decade,the idea that the customer and how he or she experiences things is a veryimportant aspect of consumption has existed for much longer. The sociologistGerhard Schulze wrote his book ‘‘Die Erlebnisgesellschaft’’, German for ‘‘theexperience society’’, in 1992. In this book he argues that current society is more andmore focused on experience and he describes what he calls ‘‘Erlebnis Rationalität’’(experience rationality), the growing focus of people on adapting their environment tobe able to have more or more intense experiences. In 1982, Hirschman and Holbrookwrote an article on hedonic consumption, or ““the multisensory, fantasy and emotiveaspects of one’’s experience with products”” (Hirschman & Holbrook, 1982, p. 92), inwhich they argued that the traditional, more utilitarian, perspective on consumerbehaviour was not sufficient anymore to explain how and why people consume whatthey do. In 1976, MacCannell’’s book The Tourist was published, in which hedescribed how contemporary tourists are on the continuous search for touristicexperiences. Toffler’’s book Future Shock, published in 1970, contains an entirechapter titled ‘‘The Experience Makers’’ which discusses the rise of whole industriesthat are dedicated to the production of experiences for people. In 1964 DanielBoorstin, in his book ‘‘The Image’’, described at length what the consequences forindividuals and society have been of the fact that we think we can fabricate andmarket experiences. And even as early as in 1959, Levy described the way in whichconsumption should be considered as a symbolic process because of the growingrecognition of the importance of the customer in this process.Although there exists a vast amount of articles and books on this development andalthough the attention for experiences in the economy can be traced back to morethan 50 years ago, the experience economy is still theoretically ill-founded. Besidesthis, there is also a strong bias in the experience economy discourse as I will explain.One of the reasons for the current bias in the experience economy discourse is thatscholars in the fields of marketing and business appear to only look at a part of whatexperience is. Based on an overview of definitions of the term experience in chapter 2,I argue that experiences in general, not just experiences as economic offerings, perdefinition consist of three essential interrelated elements: something in the 27
  • 27. environment that is experienced, an individual who experiences and an encounter ofthe individual and his or her environment. One problem of the current experienceeconomy discourse in the fields of marketing and business is that scholars often seemto focus on mainly one of these three essential elements. Since a focus on one of theelements means that one is approaching experience from a specific angle, I want toargue that there are three approaches that can be distinguished in the currentdiscourse.One approach is focused on the ‘‘experienced being’’, or ‘‘what’’ it is that is experiencedin the individual’’s environment, for example events, activities, occurrences, things,and so on. I have named this approach the environment-centred approach. Thesecond approach is focused more on the ‘‘experiencer’’, and the effects that he or sheexperiences, hence I have called this approach the effect-centred approach. The thirdapproach is focused on the characteristics of the encounter of the individual and his orher environment. This approach is called the encounter-centred approach. A reviewof current literature on the experience economy in chapter 2 shows that scholars inthe fields of marketing and business usually focus on one of these three specificelements and therefore take a specific approach as their basis. This bias does notnecessarily lead to problems if one consciously makes a specific choice for a specificelement and approach, and is aware of the consequences of this choice. However,given the theoretically ill-founded nature of the subject, one may doubt whether thischoice is always made intentionally. One first has to be aware that there is in fact abias in one’’s perspective, but after this recognition one can deal with it. ““Fortunatelyfor serious minds, a bias recognized is a bias sterilized”” (Taylor, 1855).Although the choice for one approach or the other may have unintendedconsequences, this still does not fully explain my argument that the current bias in theexperience economy discourse is problematic. An additional problem is that evenwithin the specific approaches marketing and business scholars take a limiting andquite objectivist view. Scholars usually theorize about the experience economy froman organizational perspective. The assumption that decommoditization is the mainreason for the emergence of an experience economy, can clearly be recognized in thecurrent experience economy discourse. This causes a search for new ways to addvalue to economic offerings, so that one can differentiate one’’s offerings from those of 28
  • 28. 1 | Research outlinethe competition. Since the assumption seems to be that it is always theorganization that has to add value to the economic offerings, the organizationalperspective is highly dominant in current literature. To balance the experienceeconomy discourse one should also take into account the individual’’s perspective.The individual plays a decisive role in experiences and if this role is neglected bytaking solely the organizational perspective, organizations run the risk of not offeringexperiences to their customers but mere adapted goods and services.In the environment-centred approach for instance, the view of what is experiencedaccording to marketing and business scholars is often restricted to treating experiencesas if they are products or environments with objective qualities that can be producedand managed. The objectivist perspective can be recognized in this approach in manyways. Experiences are staged, produced, sold, managed etc., as if they are separateobjects in the individual’’s environment. In the effect-centred approach, the marketingand business scholars’’ focus lies mainly on how hedonic effects can or should beinvoked and managed. Also here one can notice a clear objectivist perspective, sincethe effects, be they for example emotions, feelings or moods, are dealt with as if theyare entities separate from the individual that can be given or sold to him or her.Thirdly, the role of the individual in the encounter-centred approach in marketingand business literature is primarily restricted to the investment of money. Theencounter is often described as a transaction between an organization that functionsas ‘‘experience-provider’’ and a customer, in which the organization gives something ofvalue to the customer and the customer gives something of value, usually money, inreturn. The way in which these ‘‘somethings-of-value’’ are discussed resembles adiscussion of objects, separate from the organization and separate from the individual,that are transacted. Again one can recognize the objectivist perspective. In thediscussion of the three approaches the objectivist perspective will be explained inmore detail.The bias in the experience economy discourse thus not only refers to scholars focusingon one of the three elements of experiences by taking a specific approach to thesubject, but even within a specific approach in literature usually a quite objectivisticview is taken on only one conceptualization or effect or value that is selected anddiscussed. In figure 1.2 the bias in the experience discourse is depicted by illustrating 29
  • 29. how usually the choice for one approach of experience, and within that approach forone objectivistic aspect, results in a very restricted focus on what experience entails. Experience Focus on one Environment- Effect-centred Encounter- approach centred centred Separate entities Separate entities Separate entities that the parties Objectivistic in the that can be sent involved in the individual’’s to an individual perspective or managed as experience environment transact with objects each otherFigure 1.2 –– The objectivistic perspective within the three approaches of experienceAgain, the focus on just one aspect of one approach does not have to pose a problemfor marketing and business scholars, as long as they are aware of the fact that they arediscussing only a part of what experience entails. But without a clear overview of whatexperience is and means, of the complete experience economy discourse, one runs therisk of thinking that one has covered the whole subject, potentially resulting ininappropriate choices related to the three elements of experience.This brings me to the statement of the objective of my research:The objective of my research is to offset the current bias in the experience economydiscourse, by constructing a sound and integrative theoretical foundation for theexperience economy from the individual’’s perspective. 30
  • 30. 1 | Research outlineThe construction of a sound theoretical foundation for the experience economyhelps to see which options are available to choose from when one needs to choosea specific focus. However, the objectivistic focus on separate entities is alwaysproblematic, since the objectivistic perspective is not a useful perspective whentrying to gain insight into experiences. Knowledge according to objectivists should““adequately describe some objective reality”” (Jonassen, 1991, p. 7). However,experiences are not parts of ‘‘some objective reality’’ but constructions in a socialreality as I intend to make clear in this research, and knowledge of experience willtherefore not come about based on the same principles that are used for studying the‘‘objective reality’’ of objectivists. Where objectivists believe that they can gainknowledge on the world by adhering to the principles of positivism, I consider theseprinciples not useful for constructing a sound theoretical foundation for theexperience economy. As Lee (1991) states: ““people, and the physical and socialartifacts that they create, are fundamentally different from the physical realityexamined by natural science”” (p. 347). People attach meanings to what theyexperience and these meanings may vary from one person to the other. In this sense,the way knowledge can be gained on experience is via interpretation of the meaningsindividuals attach to their experience. For gaining this knowledge one cannot rely onthe same principles of positivism that are used for natural science, but one needsdifferent principles. To construct a sound and integrative theoretical foundation forthe experience economy I will therefore explicitly take into account knowledge onexperience derived from disciplines outside of the fields of marketing and business,which adhere more to interpretivistic principles.By constructing a theoretical overview of experience solely based on existing literature,I will not yet have attained my goal of offsetting the current bias in the experienceeconomy discourse. Assuming that I would have, would mean making the mistake ofdiscussing the subject from an outside point of view without taking into account theactual individual’’s experience. The personal nature of experience requires one to tryto approximate the perspective of individuals themselves. They are the only ones whotruly know what they have experienced, the experts on their own experience. Itherefore have chosen to interview 15 individuals who have had a ‘‘free choicelearning experience’’. The analysis of these so-called existential-phenomenologicalinterviews, in which the interviewees are in fact treated as the experts, renders insightinto the main themes that the interviewees themselves deem important in the context 31
  • 31. of their experience. By combining these insights with the insights that were derivedfrom the presented literature on experience, I not only attain my objective ofoffsetting the current bias in the experience economy discourse, by constructing asound and integrative theoretical foundation for the experience economy, but I alsoattain my objective of constructing this theoretical foundation from the individual’’sperspective.1.2 RESEARCH QUESTIONSTo attain my research objective presented in paragraph 1.1, I will need to answerseveral research questions. Since the theoretical foundation that I intend to constructin this research will not be the first theory that has been constructed for theexperience economy, I will first answer the question ““What is the current state ofaffairs regarding theory on the experience economy?””Based on an analysis of a varied range of definitions and theories of experience Idistinguish three elements that are essential for an experience to exist and threerelated approaches of experience: the environment-, effect-, and encounter-centredapproaches. I will explain what these approaches of experience entail and what theirrespective foci are. I will also describe and explain the bias I argue that eachrespective approach by itself suffers from and the gaps in knowledge caused by thisbias in chapter 2. The way that business and marketing scholars have so far theorizedabout experiences, based on the assumption that the reason for the emergence of theexperience economy is the risk of commoditization of economic offerings, has causeda quite restricted perspective on the concept of experience, on the effects ofexperiences and on the values that are invested in experiences, resulting in the biasthat I intend to offset in this research.In chapter 3 I will answer the question ““How can experiences be conceptualized froman individual’’s perspective?”” The answer to this question will help to see experiencesin a broader perspective than the organizational perspective taken by marketing andbusiness scholars in the environment-centred approach. This organizationalperspective is the main reason why experiences are treated as manageable economic 32
  • 32. 1 | Research outlineofferings as I will explain in chapter 2. By reconceptualizing experiences from anindividual’’s perspective and by making use of the extensive amount of literature onexperiences that is available in disciplines outside of the field of marketing andbusiness literature, a spectrum of experience-concepts can be constructed whichgives insight in different conceptualizations of experience and how these arerelated. This spectrum is intended to increase awareness of the current bias in theexperience economy discourse in terms of the conceptualizations of experience and tohelp in offsetting this bias.Chapter 4 addresses the excessive focus on the management and production ofpredetermined hedonic effects that characterizes the effect-centred approach toexperiences in business and marketing literature. In this approach it is assumed thatindividuals are not looking for functional benefits anymore but that they desirehedonic effects. A further assumption is that the organization’’s role is to produce andmanage these effects. By referring to literature from various disciplines outside of thefields of business and marketing, I want to give insight into various other potentialeffects of experiences and into the roles that organizations can play in the emergenceof these effects, since the question is whether effects can be produced or managed atall. The answer to the question ““Which kinds of effects can experiences have from anindividual’’s perspective?”” will broaden the perspective to incorporate effects beyondimmediate hedonic effects, and it will clarify the roles that individuals andorganizations play in experiences. The result of this chapter will be a spectrum ofexperience effects that is intended to increase awareness of the current bias in theexperience economy discourse in terms of the different effects that experiences canhave and to help offset this bias.Question 4, ““Which types of values do individuals invest in the experience?””addresses the myopic vision that is taken by marketing and business scholars on therole that individuals play in experiences. Their primary focus is the role oforganizations in determining which values individuals should invest during theexperience, hereby neglecting values that individuals invest in the experience beyondfinancial values. Individuals invest more than just financial values in the experience.They are active participants in the creation of value, and not merely passivelyabsorbing whatever they are confronted with and have paid for. The neglect of theactive role of individuals and of the different values they invest is becoming even more 33
  • 33. problematic nowadays because of many developments that allow individuals tobecome more active than they have ever been. This does not mean that organizationshave no role in the experience anymore, but their roles will change. Three roles fororganizations in the experience economy will be presented and explained in chapter 5.The different view on values and the changes in the roles of organizations andindividuals alike in the experience economy increase awareness of the current bias inthe experience economy discourse related to the values that individuals invest and areintended to help in offsetting this bias.These first four questions represent the theoretical aspect of this research, the currentstate of affairs in the marketing and business domain of experience literature (question1) and the concepts, effects and values of experience from a multidisciplinarytheoretical perspective (questions 2, 3 and 4). Most of these multidisciplinaryperspectives on the concepts, effects and values of experience contain the individual’’sperspective. However, for the construction of a truly sound and integrative theoreticalfoundation for the experience economy from the individual’’s perspective I argue thatincorporating the opinion of real individuals is necessary. For this reason the researchalso contains an empirical component in the form of 15 existential-phenomenologicalinterviews that were held with individuals who have experienced a free choicelearning experience. The choices underlying the research design and methodologicalaspects of the interviewing process and analysis will be presented in chapter 6. Inchapter 7, an answer will be provided to the question ““Which themes emerge fromthe existential phenomenological interviews on individuals’’ free choice learningexperiences?””Finally, in chapter 8 the themes and insights from the existential-phenomenologicalinterviews will be confronted with the theoretical insights from chapters 3 through 5to answer the question ““How can the insights on experience derived from thetheoretical analysis in chapters 3 through 5 and the insights on free choice learningexperiences derived from the existential-phenomenological interviews be related inorder to construct a sound and integrative theoretical foundation for the experienceeconomy?””By combining the collected theoretical and empirical insights on experience, I will notonly have constructed a theoretical foundation for the experience economy that is 34
  • 34. 1 | Research outlinesound and integrative in the sense that it incorporates the three essential elementsof experience by combining the three different approaches of experience, but thetheoretical foundation will also be constructed based on the individual’’sperspective,Figure 1.3 –– Research model according to Verschuren and Doorewaard (1998)since not only in the selection of theoretical insights the individual’’s perspective hasbeen an important criterion, but also because the insights from the interviewsrepresent the meanings that individuals have given to their own experience. Byanswering the abovementioned 6 questions, which are depicted graphically in theresearch model in figure 1.3, I intend to attain my research objective of offsetting thecurrent bias in the experience economy discourse, by constructing a sound andintegrative theoretical foundation for the experience economy from the individual’’sperspective. 35
  • 35. Before presenting the research context in chapter 2, I would like to present thestructure of this thesis and the academic, professional and societal contributions I planto make.1.3 STRUCTURAL OUTLINE OF THE THESISThe thesis before you, in short, has been structured as graphically depicted in figure1.4. Chapters Chapter 6: 3, 4 & 5: Existential- Experience spectrum phenomenological with insights into: interviews Concepts (ch.3) Effects (ch.4) Values (ch.5) Chapter 2: Chapter 7: 3 approaches in current Themes emerged literature on experience: from interviews: Environment centred Engagement Effect centred Direction Encounter centred Chapter 8: Investment Sound and integrative theoretical foundation for experience economy from the individual’s perspectiveFigure 1.4 – Research outlineThis figure will be presented before each chapter as a point of reference. After thisintroductory chapter I will present the research context in chapter 2. There are 3assumptions that underlie my view on experience: 1) experiences are a sign of adematerializing economy, 2) there are per definition three essential elements thatconstitute an experience and therefore also three ways in which experiences can be 36
  • 36. 1 | Research outlineapproached, and 3) the perceived risk of commoditization of economic offeringshas led business and marketing scholars to treat experiences in an objectivistic way,which has limited their view on the concept of experience, the effects that canresult from experiences and the values that are invested in the experience-encounter. These issues I will explore as the problems related to respectively theenvironment-centred, the effect-centred and the encounter-centred approaches. Inchapters 3, 4 and 5 I will propose a solution to these problems by offering a broaderinterpretivistic perspective on experience. In chapter 3 I will broaden the perspectiveon experience by presenting a spectrum of experience-concepts, which shows that thecurrent focus of scholars on experiences as objects, events or activities in theindividual’’s environment with objective qualities that can be produced and managed,is a too limited way of viewing experiences. In chapter 4 I will focus on the fact thatalthough current literature on experiences within the effect-centred approach ismainly concerned with the management of hedonic effects, one can question whethermanaging effects is at all possible. Furthermore, hedonic effects can be criticized asbeing just one sort of potential effects that can result from having an experience. I willtherefore conclude this chapter with a spectrum of experience-effects. In chapter 5 Iwill explore what happens during the encounter of the individual and his or herenvironment, and what consequences the specific characteristics of experiences havefor the exchange of values in this encounter. In current literature the perspective onthe role of the individual in the encounter is usually limited to him or her investingfinancial value but I will show that there are various other values that the individualmay invest and that this requires a change in the roles that organizations play in theencounter. The broader perspective on experience, resulting from chapters 3 through5, will result in an overview of experience-concepts, - effects and ––encounters whichcan be used to make more sensible decisions when working in the experienceeconomy.After the theoretical exploration of the conceptualizations, effects and values ofexperiences in chapters 3 through 5, I will introduce the empirical section of myresearch design in chapter 6. To construct a foundation for the experience economyfrom the individual’’s perspective, I will have to integrate the individual’’s perspective. Iwill explain why I have chosen for existential-phenomenological interviews to doexactly this and present my research design for the empirical part of this research.The analysis of the interview data is presented in chapter 7, resulting in three main 37
  • 37. themes that have emerged from the interviews. Finally, I will confront the theoreticalinsights from chapters 3 through 5 with the empirical insights from chapter 7 toconstruct a sound and integrative theoretical foundation for the experience economyfrom the individual’’s perspective with the aim of offsetting the current bias in theexperience economy discourse, which is the objective of this research.1.4 CONTRIBUTIONSThe objective of any study is to make a contribution to knowledge. In terms of Lockeand Golden-Biddle’’s (1997) distinction between two different possible types ofcontributions, the contribution of this study falls under the problematization of the so-called ““intertextual field””, or the existing body of literature and publications that areseen as relevant to the study. The intertextual field can be problematized in threeways: incompleteness, inadequacy and incommensurability.When gaps are identified in the existing literature (incompleteness problematization),when different, relevant, and important perspectives are not sufficiently incorporatedin existing literature (inadequacy problematization) or when claims are made that areinaccurate in the existing body of literature (incommensurability problematization),one can make a contribution to knowledge by solving these limitations. I will refer tothe different types of problematizations in the following discussion of the contributionsthat I intend to make with this study. I have grouped the intended contributions interms of my research objective.““A sound and integrative theoretical foundation for the experience economy……””Although the term ‘‘experience economy’’ was coined more than a decade ago (Pineand Gilmore, 1998) and references to experiences as economic offerings have beenpresent for over half a century, to this date there is still no overarching theoreticalfoundation for what this so-called experience economy entails. In chapter 2 I willpresent a variety of theories on experience and the experience economy and showhow confusing and often even contradictory the existing body of knowledge is at thismoment. The lack of a sound theoretical foundation for the experience economymakes it difficult to do research in this area and to build upon the existing body of 38
  • 38. 1 | Research outlineresearch and literature. If different scholars adhere to different definitions orconcepts of experience, it becomes problematic to compare the different theoriesand research results. One of the contributions I therefore intend to make is to offersuch an overview, of how the experience economy can be conceptualized,resulting in an intuitive vocabulary to be used by scholars who are interested instudying the experience economy. This contribution clearly belongs under theincompleteness problematization, since the existing body of knowledge on theexperience economy suffers from a lack of an overarching theoretical foundation ofwhat the experience economy entails.““……from the individual’’s perspective……””One of the problems I see in the existing body of literature on the experienceeconomy is the dominant organizational perspective. Although the role of theindividual is often heralded to become ever more crucial for success, the perspectivefrom which many theories on experience economy have been written is still that ofthe organization and not that of the individual as I will show in chapter 2. Thisdominance of the organizational perspective may have been unproblematic fortheories on products that are produced in a factory at a distance from the individualbut since the individual is involved in the experience his or her perspective necessarilyhas to be taken into account. By constructing a theoretical foundation for theexperience economy from the individual’’s perspective I make a contribution relatedto the inadequacy problematization of the intertextual field since I notice that thisdifferent, relevant, and important perspective has up to now not been sufficientlyincorporated in existing literature on the experience economy. Yet anothercontribution I want to make with this study is more methodological in nature. Thereis still a dominant quantitative perspective in research within the fields of business andmarketing although there are signs of a growing call for more qualitative or at leastmixed-method-designs (Koller, 2008). The growing importance of the customerexperience and concepts like meaning and symbolism in these fields may be a reasonfor this. By conducting qualitative interviews in this study I want to contribute to theknowledge on how qualitative research methods can be used to incorporate theindividual’’s perspective in the context of research on the experience economy.““……to offset the current bias in the experience economy discourse.”” 39
  • 39. The main motivation for wanting to construct a sound and integrative theoreticalfoundation for the experience economy from the individual’’s perspective, is that Iwant to offset the current bias in the experience economy discourse. As I have statedin short above and as I will explain more in depth in chapter 2 there are threeessential components in every experience: something that is experienced, someonewho experiences and the encounter between these two. Three approaches can berecognized in the existing body of knowledge on the experience economy: one thatmainly focuses on the something, one that mainly focuses on the someone and onethat mainly focuses on the encounter, or the environment-centred approach (focusedon the something), the effect-centred approach (focused on the someone) and theencounter-centred approach (focused on the encounter). Since all three componentsare equally important for an experience to happen, a focus on one of these means thatthe other two are lacking. Claims about experiences based on notions of only onecomponent are then bound to be incomplete or even inaccurate, when one is notaware of the fact that one has a mere partial and thus biased, view on experience. Byconstructing a theory that incorporates all three components this bias becomesexplicit and can be offset.Besides the bias in the experience economy discourse because of the focus on only onecomponent of experiences, also within the approaches there exists a bias in thediscourse. As I will thoroughly discuss in chapter 2, the discourse in existing literatureon the experience economy is biased towards a quite objectivistic view, in which theorganization, and not the individual, is in command. I will discuss the contribution Iwish to make with this study for each approach specifically.Literature belonging to the environment-centred approach is biased towards a view ofexperiences as economic offerings with objective features that can be produced byorganizations. However, as will be discussed in chapter 3, experiences are not objectsthat can be produced and many instances of what in current literature and practiceare called experiences are not experiences at all. Without a clear understanding ofwhat experiences are and what types of experiences can be distinguished, there willremain confusion in the experience economy discourse. If non-experiences andexperiences are grouped together under the name experience, then inaccurate claimsabout experience are bound to be made. A contribution that I want to make in thecontext of this incommensurability problematization is that I want to present a 40
  • 40. 1 | Research outlinespectrum of different intuitive and logically related experience conceptualizationsthat will help the discourse on the experience economy.Literature belonging to the effect-centred approach is biased towards a view ofexperiences as hedonic effects that can be managed. In chapter 4 I argue that 1)the claim that the effects in individuals can be managed is inaccurate since there isa process of meaning making involved and 2) the dominant focus on hedonic effectscauses one to neglect other potentially valuable effects. Especially longer-lasting effectsthat are more difficult to achieve fall short of attention. For the experience economydiscourse it is important that these inaccurate claims are addressed and an alternativeand broader perspective is offered since much of the critique on the the experienceeconomy has to do with its alleged focus on the management of hedonic effects andthe resulting so-called Disneyfication of society. By presenting an overview of differenteffects that experiences can have, the potential broader scope of the experienceeconomy becomes apparent.Literature belonging to the encounter-centred approach is biased towards a view ofexperiences as products that are sold to individuals in exchange for money. However,claims made based on this view of experience are bound to be inaccurate since theneglect of other values causes a faulty understanding of how individuals dealing withimmaterial products like experiences behave. For example: the investment of moneyin exchange for a product is often seen as detrimental to the perceived value by acustomer, but the investment of other types of values can be beneficial for theperceived value. A mere focus on the money exchange would cause a neglect of thesebeneficial effects of value investments during experiences. Also, when immaterialproducts are involved, as is more and more the case in our society, a focus on moneycauses one to neglect other types of business models in which other types of valueinvestments are dominant. A societal effect of the dominant focus on charging moneyfor experiences that is often alluded to is the fact that this may come at the cost of thepublic domain. As can be seen, and as will be explained in depth in chapter 5, theview of experiences as products that are sold to individuals in exchange for moneycauses one to have a very narrow, and even inaccurate view of the roles of individualsin the experience. By investigating how the roles of the individual and theorganization during an experience can be perceived based on a broader meaning ofvalue than just financial value, I want to contribute to a better understanding of thevalue exchanges in the experience economy. 41
  • 41. C HAPT E R 2 Where wise actions are the fruit of life, wise discourse is the pollination. B RYA N T H . M C G I L L , A G I F T- G I V E R ’ S M A N I F E S T O , 201142
  • 42. Researchcontext Chapters Chapter 6: 3, 4 & 5: Existential- Experience spectrum phenomenological with insights into: interviews Concepts (ch.3) Effects (ch.4) Values (ch.5) Chapter 2: Chapter 7:3 approaches in current Themes emergedliterature on experience: from interviews: Environment centred Engagement Effect centred Direction Encounter centred Chapter 8: Investment Sound and integrative theoretical foundation for experience economy from the individual’s perspective 43
  • 43. 2.1 INTRODUCTIONExperiences have been a highly debated topic of discussion in marketing and businessliterature for more than a decade, but there is still much ambiguity on whatexperiences are and what their value is or could be. The problems that, as I will argue,originate from the way in which business and marketing scholars have dealt with theconcept of experience, have motivated me to look beyond the boundaries of businessand marketing literature to find out how experiences can be conceptualized and whatthe implications of a broader concept of experience are for organisations andindividuals. The goal of this chapter is twofold: 1) to get the reader acquainted withthe conceptualizations of experience as they are described in marketing and businessliterature, and 2) to present the reader with the logic which underlies my researchobjective, which is: to offset the current bias in the experience economy discourse, byconstructing a sound and integrative theoretical foundation for the experienceeconomy from the individual’’s perspective. To attain these goals I will answer my firstresearch question: ““What is the current state of affairs regarding theory on theexperience economy?”” since the answer to this question will not only clarify thediscourse on the experience economy of scholars in the fields of business andmarketing, but it will also show the gaps that I argue are present in the currentexperience economy discourse.The reason that I have decided to use multiple disciplines in this research lies in thefact that the greater part of contemporary literature on the experience economyoriginates from business and marketing scholars. These seem to have patentedexperiences as new economic offerings. However, to my knowledge, there exists noclear overview of the experience economy discourse and a broader perspective fromwhich these commercial experiences can be approached is lacking. Because of theamount of different examples of new economic offerings and different interpretationsof the term experience, this overview and broader perspective are needed to be ableto arrive at a clear discourse on what the value of experiences is or might be, fororganisations as well as for individuals. 44
  • 44. 2 | Research contextFirst of all, in paragraph 2.2, I will give an overview of economic developmentsthat have led to an increased focus on immaterial consumption and the ways inwhich this dematerialization is expressed in the market; experiences as economicofferings being one of its expressions. To this end, the concept of market has beenextended because of the increasing commodification of cultural, social andpsychological resources, as I will explain in this chapter. The main reason given inliterature on the experience economy for the increasing interest in immaterial aspectsof consumption, but also the immaterial aspects of work, design and other areas, is therisk of commoditization. If offerings become commoditized, this means they are sowidely available and interchangeable, that the only differentiating factor that acustomer can use as a basis for his choice is price. Commoditization thus leads tocompetition based on price, which in the end will lead to lower profit margins for theorganizations involved. By finding new immaterial differentiating factors,organizations hope to escape commoditization and maintain or even increase profitmargins.From the broader context of which experiences are part I will then move on toparagraph 2.3 in which I will zoom in on the concept of experience and how it can beapproached. Based on a review of definitions of experience I conclude that there arethree approaches of the concept, related to three essential components of experiences.These different approaches are the environment-centred approach, the effect-centredapproach, and the encounter-centred approach.In paragraph 2.4 I will discuss how experiences are dealt with in current business andmarketing literature and show how this literature can basically be subdivided into thethree approaches of experience mentioned above. Based on the distinction betweenthese three approaches in literature I will explain what I see as important gaps in thecurrent theories on experiences within the fields of business and marketing. Thesegaps are caused by a biased perspective of business and marketing scholars:- for the environment-centred approach: by focusing primarily on the role oforganizations in producing experiences as economic offerings with the ‘‘right’’objective features and hereby neglecting the variety of different conceptualizations ofexperience. 45
  • 45. - for the effect-centred approach: by focusing primarily on the role of organizations inmanaging and producing predetermined hedonic effects, hereby neglecting the role ofthe individual and the existence of other effects, and- for the encounter-centred approach: by focusing primarily on the role oforganizations in determining which values should be invested during the experience-encounter, hereby neglecting values that individuals invest in the encounter beyondfinancial values.The dominant focus on the role of the organization and the resulting gaps in theorycan be related to the search for ways to escape commoditization, as I will explain foreach of the three approaches. The exploration and explanation of the three gaps intheory can be found in paragraph 2.4. Finally I will show how the gaps in the threetheoretical approaches and my research objective are connected.2.2 EXPERIENCES AS A SIGN OF A DEMATERIALIZING ECONOMYIn business and marketing literature, there is a noticeable growing interest in thesubject of dematerialization. Already in the nineteen eighties, Herman, Ardekani andAusubel (1989) began to explore the question of whether the dematerialization ofhuman societies was under way. At that time, dematerialization was defined primarilyas the decline over time in the weight of materials used in industrial end products orin the ““embedded energy”” of the products. More broadly, dematerialization referredto the absolute or relative reduction in the quantity of materials required to serveeconomic functions (Herman, Ardekani & Ausubel, 1989). A review of differentdefinitions of dematerialization shows that dematerialization is taking place in variousareas. Three of these areas, digitization, eco-efficiency and the focus on immaterialaspects of consumption, are receiving much attention in literature.TYPES OF DEMATERIALIZATIONDigitization means the replacement of a physical or substantial item with electronicsignals. By using ICT, formerly physical objects are transformed into non-tangibledigital data. Especially in money markets this development can clearly be recognized 46
  • 46. 2 | Research context(Rifkin, 2000), but dematerialization is happening in every area where objects arebeing produced or used, that can be translated into bits and signals. Thisdigitization, or virtualization, also has consequences for the relationships betweenpeople, e.g. telecommunication services can, within limits, substitute for physicalpresence (Hilty & Ruddy, 2000). Digitization Immaterial aspects of Eco-efciency consumption Dematerialization of the economyFigure 2.1 –– Three processes that are part of dematerializationEco-efficient product design is a second area in which dematerialization is a heavilydebated topic. In this area the goals are the optimization of processes and products asregards their material and energy efficiency and the redesign of products with the aimto reduce the necessary resource input or to increase the products’’ life cycle. Byinventing new ways to use resources more efficiently and to recycle them, solutionsare searched by taking into consideration the finiteness of material resources and thereduction of waste in the world (Hilty & Ruddy, 2000).A third definition of dematerialization has to do with the focus on the immaterialaspects of consumption. This development could already be seen in the replacementof the agrarian and industrial economy by the service economy, where intangibleprocesses and activities performed by service providers became more important in 47
  • 47. terms of value than the physical objects and products people bought from farms andfactories. Various authors have speculated that dematerialization is the logicaloutcome of advanced economies in which material needs are substantially fulfilled(Colombo, 1988; Bernardini & Galli, 1993), while empirical research in consumerbehaviour shows that consumers still buy more material products even though theirneeds are already fulfilled (Wernick, Herman, Govind & Ausubel, 1996). In advancedeconomies the wants and desires of consumers play a greater role in consumptionbehaviour than their needs. The transformation from economies with materializedofferings to economies where dematerialization is taking place at a growing rate isshown in figure 2.2. Dematerialization New Commodities Goods Services Economic Offerings MaterializationFigure 2.2 –– Dematerialization of economic offerings (after Pine & Gilmore, 1999)The earliest commodity economy was concerned with the extraction of variousmutually exchangeable substances from the natural environment. Since thesecommodities are largely fungible, the markets of supply and demand determine prices.Industrialization made supply numbers increase, causing organizations to search for 48
  • 48. 2 | Research contextways one could generate higher value returns in a so-called manufacturingeconomy. In a manufacturing economy the primary economic offerings are goods:tangible items that are produced by using commodities as their raw material.When companies started to standardize these goods for economies of scale, thevalue returns diminished and companies began to substitute services for goods toyield higher profits. Services are more or less intangible activities performed on behalfof a particular customer. Because of developments like disintermediation and thegrowing use of ICT, many services are also being commoditized, which is drivingdown value returns.This decline in value returns for services and products is one of the main reasonsorganizations are looking for new economic offerings with higher value returns. Thedematerialization of economic offerings means that economic value is embedded inimmaterial units, as opposed to offerings in which economic value manifests itself inconcrete, physical, and material form (Quah, 1996a; Quah, 1996b). The economicvalue of dematerialized offerings, like for example stories and ideas, is independent ofthe physical medium containing them.COMMODITIZATION CAUSES A GROWING INTEREST IN DEMATERIALIZATIONThe interest in the dematerialization of economic offerings is reflected in a growingquantity of theories and books that state the importance of doing business differently,or even the necessity of doing business differently. Although the names that differentauthors have given to the new economic offerings vary (e.g. Attention Economy(Davenport & Beck, 2001), Experience Economy (Pine & Gilmore, 1999),Information Economy (Porat, 1977), the Age of Access (Rifkin, 2000), SupportEconomy (Zuboff & Maxmin, 2002), Economy of Meaning (Ter Borg, 2003),Emotion Economy (Maes & Parson, 2001; Prast, 2010; Hill, 2007; Piët, 2003)), theyseem to agree on the need for taking into account the immaterial aspects ofconsumption. The main reason that is given for entering a new economy is that sincemany economic offerings are nowadays similar in characteristics, features, quality,and price, the importance of other differentiating aspects as an opportunity forcompetitive advantage in the marketplace increases (Dumaine, 1991). Material goodsand services will continue to become increasingly abundant which will cause a pattern 49
  • 49. of decreasing costs and commoditization (e.g. Pine & Gilmore, 1999).Commoditization refers to a situation in which products become so widely availableand mutually interchangeable that consumers cannot distinguish them from eachother anymore and make their choices based on price. According to many authorscommoditization of economic offerings and the resulting situation in whichcompetition is solely based on price, is the main reason why companies have to addimmaterial differentiating aspects to their offerings:““ (……) businesses perish from relying on low prices as a means of hawking their offerings. (……) inindustry after industry, that system of competition no longer sustains growth and profitability”” (Pine& Gilmore, 1999, p. ix)““ Increased price volatility as market forces take over awaits the sellers of all commoditized goods andservices”” (Pine & Gilmore, 1999, p. 14)““ (……) the greater part of future consumption growth will be of an immaterial nature. (……) the storyconnected to the product will play an ever greater role in the purchase decision.”” (Jensen, 1999, p. 52)““ (……) entertainment content has become a key differentiator in virtually every aspect of the broaderconsumer economy. (……) Without entertainment content, few consumer products stand a chance intomorrow’’s marketplace.”” (Wolf, 1999, pp. 4-5)The increasing focus on emotional and other immaterial aspects can be seen in manydifferent areas. Emotions involved in the consumption experience have become animportant object of study in consumer behaviour. Examples of studied aspects areaffective reactions to consumption situations (Derbaix & Pham, 1991), therelationship between emotions and satisfaction in consumption (Westbrook & Oliver,1991), and post purchase affective responses (Westbrook, 1987). All of these studieshave indicated that emotions are an important component of consumer response.This type of studies may provide insight into how organizations can offer somethingelse to their customers, preventing their offerings from being commoditized. Alsoemotions elicited by product appearance are an important object of study. It isacknowledged that emotions elicited by products can enhance the pleasure of buying,owning and using them (Hirschman & Holbrook, 1982). These emotions elicited by 50
  • 50. 2 | Research contextproducts are strongly influenced by the appearance of the product (Desmet,Overbeeke & Tax, 2001), but emotions are in most cases rather elicited bymeanings yielded from the product than by the product as such. In those cases, theemotion is not elicited by tangible product attributes but by intangible and highlypersonal construals of the product (Desmet, Hekkert & Jacobs, 2000). Thepersonal nature of emotions could give insight into how organizations can adapt theirofferings to escape the commoditizing effects.Many findings in studies about product design have also been used to change the wayin which service providers develop interactions with customers. Especially the designof the environment in which interactions take place has received a lot of attentionlately. In the past, places, physical as well as virtual, were designed on the basis offunctionality and usability principles, to render the interaction between customer andcompany as effective and efficient as possible. These principles are still essential,although designers now have to take into account also the way in which the customerexperiences the environment in which the interaction takes place. Shops are now partof ““cathedrals of consumption, which point up to the quasi-religious, ““enchanted””nature of these new settings”” (Ritzer, 1999, p. x), but also public spaces as churches,schools and hospitals are emulating the new means of consumption (Ritzer, 1999).This development in public space is also described by Mommaas (2000) as theincreasing decisiveness of the consumptive-symbolic order in directing the functional-morphological order of public space. Besides in designing physical environments, theuser experience has become a critical factor to take into account in the design ofvirtual spaces (Cain, 1998; Alben, 1996; Forlizzi, 1997; Hudspith, 1997; Rhea, 1992).Especially in the fields of website design and virtual reality the affective responses ofindividuals using ICT have received a lot of attention. One of the research areas inwhich the experience of users is considered critical is called Presence Research, whichis described as ““the study of the subjective experience of ‘‘being there’’ in mediatedenvironments such as virtual reality, simulators, cinema, television, etc.”” (, 2006) (also see the discussion of presence in paragraph 3.3.2).An unmistakable sign that emotional, immaterial aspects have begun to be consideredas important in economic science is the fact that psychologist Daniel Kahneman wasone of the winners of the Nobel Prize for Economic Sciences in 2002. His studies haveshown that economic research often assumes that people are motivated primarily by 51
  • 51. material incentives and make decisions in a rational way, following the so-calledexpected-utility theory, which is the predominant economic theory for decisionsunder uncertainty. Kahneman has called into question the assumptions of a homooeconomicus motivated by self-interest and capable of making rational decisions, andhas shown that in various decision situations, immaterial and irrational elements likeperception, mental models, attitudes and emotions have to be included in the process,which resulted in winning the Nobel Prize.In much the same way that immaterial factors are becoming the focal point of thedesign of products and places, also the design of activities of individuals is changing ina less material direction. Issues like pleasurable work, emotional intelligence,authentic leadership, play and creativity are a number of the immaterial,psychological aspects of the working situation that have become very prominent inmanagement literature (e.g. Csikszentmihalyi, 1996; 2003; Crofts, 2003; 2005;Gardner, 1983; Cherniss & Goleman, 2001; Grün, 2002; 2005; De Bono, 1992).The examples mentioned above all indicate a search of new differentiating aspects, beit in design, consumption or work, to find ways in which to differentiate whatorganizations do from what their competitors do, to prevent the commoditization ofwhat they do.DEMATERIALIZED OFFERINGS ABIDE DIFFERENT RULESThe nature of dematerialized economic offerings has serious consequences for theway in which people can perform tasks related to the offerings (Quah, 1996a). First ofall dematerialized economic offerings are claimed to be infinitely expansible. Aneconomic object is said to be infinitely expansible ““when its use by someone does notphysically detract from its usefulness to someone else”” (Quah, 1996a, p. 3), more orless like a public good. The two concepts, dematerialized economic offerings andpublic goods, differ in that infinite expansibility itself says nothing about the legalstructure or property rights surrounding the economic object in question. A publicgood, by contrast, is not owned by any private agent. This raises questions about howpeople should behave in relation to intellectual property rights, who is the owner ofthe object and who can sell it, what is the right or fair price to be paid for the 52
  • 52. 2 | Research contextimmaterial object etc. These are important issues in a time of dematerializationand I will explore them in-depth in chapter 5.Dematerialized objects cannot be transferred but at most merely replicated, whichcauses a situation in which an agent in a transaction cannot physically gainownership of the object. For these objects, trade is not exchange, but at mostreproduction and/or recombination. When neither the economic offering beingshared nor the corresponding payment can be measured, economic value will have noclear points of physical entry and exit and tasks like buying, spending, paying,investing, importing and exporting get a different meaning. Questions about theseissues are the focal point of debates in industries where dematerialized objects areinherent to the business.One can also see a need for a shift in attention from the supply-side to the demand-side. In the case of attention for example, an important scarce resource (Davenport &Beck, 2001), it is not the organization that manages who gives attention but it is theindividual who is in control over what he or she pays attention to and what not. In thesame way also trust, an aspect of commercial relationships that has grown inimportance in the dematerializing economy (Bryant & Colledge, 2002), is not underthe control of organizations but it is the individual who determines whether to trustsomething or someone. One cannot force an individual to pay attention, to feel acertain way, to trust someone or to love something, in the way that individuals couldbe forced to accept or reject the options that organizations presented to them inearlier times of mass-production.Dematerialization will continue to cause problems for every industry that tries to hangon to the rules of the traditional model, that was invented for tangible objects, whileoffering ‘‘objects’’ that lend themselves to the so-called reversed trade model orsuperdistribution (Cox, 1996). In such a model, ease of reproduction of the objectbecomes a virtue, not a disadvantage, and the object itself can be given away freelybecause the maker of the object receives financial and other benefits each time it isused. These objects thus become more valuable when more people use them.However, one can immediately see the problem with this model and this mode ofthinking for organizations that are used to be in control. One first has to give awaythe object, without the guarantee that people will in fact start to use it and therefore 53
  • 53. without a guarantee of the benefits that it will provide. The same issue goes for trust,attention, feelings, etc. that will either grow or not, a process that is not in control ofthe organization.After this review of different examples that show an increasing dematerialization ofthe economy, the reader has a broader view of the context of developments of whichthe experience economy is part. In the next paragraph I will focus more specificallyon how the concept of experience economy is dealt with in business and marketingliterature.2.3 THREE APPROACHES OF THE CONCEPT OF EXPERIENCETo be able to understand the research problem I deal with in this thesis, it is necessaryto have knowledge of the context of the problem. For this reason I wish to give anoverview of literature that has appeared on the subject of economic experiences in therecent years, after which I will present an overview of different approaches anddefinitions of experience in general. Insight in how the concept of experience hasbeen dealt with and discussed in recent literature, helps in understanding whichassumptions authors in the field seem to have in relation to the concept of ‘‘experience’’in the fields of marketing and business. The overview of different approaches anddefinitions of experience in general, by exploring how the concept has been definedand described in various dictionaries and encyclopaedias, will show how broad theconcept of experience really is.CONFUSION AND INFLATION IN THE EXPERIENCE ECONOMY DISCOURSEWhen reviewing the vast quantity of articles and books in the fields of business andmarketing that have experiences as their subject, the amount of use of ‘‘ex-postrationalization’’ (Williamson, 1999) found is remarkable. Ex-post rationalizationmeans that the author shows a success story, and then filters out the aspects orcompetences that according to the theory in question are responsible for the success.This strategy is often part of marketing management texts (Hackley, 2003). AlsoGlaser and Strauss (1967) notice this phenomenon, which they call ‘‘exampling’’, or 54
  • 54. 2 | Research contextopportunistically finding cases that fit the proposed theory. The reasoning usuallyresembles the following: the author predicts that the economy will shift from an Aeconomy to a B economy. An explanation is given of the necessity of this shift andthe risks of not coming along. Factors that are important for success within the Beconomy are listed and examples of successful companies are used to prove theeffectiveness of the factors. However, anecdotal evidence of the financial successaccompanying experiences, though perhaps inspiring, not always helps oneunderstand the building blocks of successful commercial experiences (Poulsson & Kale,2004). There can even be risks involved in copying successful elements without theappropriate understanding of how this success has come about (Bills, 2003; Carbone,2004; Ransom, 1998).The growing recognition of the importance of experiences, of the dynamic nature ofcustomers and what they value (Hamel & Prahalad, 1994; Woodruff, 1997; Morrison& Schmid, 1994) and of experience-based perceived value, causes a greater need forresearch in this area (Mathwick, Malhotra & Rigdon, 2001; Poulsson & Kale, 2004)since there is little evidence that organizations understand these phenomena (Flint,Woodruff & Gardial, 1997; 2002; Hamel & Prahalad, 1994; Woodruff, 1997;Woodruff & Gardial, 1996; 2002; Hamel & Prahalad, 1994).According to Poulsson and Kale (2004) the area of experience creation suffers frompoor conceptualization and fuzzy directions. There is a lack of understanding of whatexperiences exactly are, how they differ from services and goods, in what way theycreate value for companies and customers and what the impact is of each element onthe overall value of an experience.Experiences in the business and marketing literature are often linked with concepts asfun, excitement, meaning, nostalgia, identity, authenticity, hedonism, engagementand especially many concepts from theatrical science, adding to the definitionalconfusion. According to Hackley (2003) authors use this tactic for reasons of ‘‘extra-disciplinary legitimization’’ with the aim of conferring upon their texts a sense of‘‘quasi-scientific plausibility’’, but Gronhaug (2000) warns of the risks involved in usingconcepts from other disciplines without a consideration of their disciplinary context ortheoretical assumptions. 55
  • 55. When reviewing the business literature on experiences, it is difficult to extract a clearand concise definition of what exactly is an experience. Some authors even claim thata definition of an experience is nowhere to be found in marketing literature and thatthere has been no attempt made to systematically define what exactly constitutes anexperience (Poulsson & Kale, 2004). A reason for the lack of a definition could be thedynamic, personal and unique nature of experiences, which makes it difficult forsomeone else to know what someone’’s experience has been like (Battarbee, 2004). Inthis sense experience is considered to be private instead of public, it cannot be sharedwith other persons.However, without a clear definition of what an experience is and what it is not, theterm can suffer from inflation. In fact, the problem is not that there is no definition tobe found, but that with all the definitions and descriptions given in literature and allthe different distinctions made between different types and kinds of experiences basedon many different dimensions, it is not clear what experiences are and what they arenot. Inflation of the term has already set in which has encouraged Forlizzi andBattarbee (2004) to make a distinction between different kinds of approaches of theterm: the product-centred, person-centred, and interaction-centred approach.PRODUCT-, PERSON- AND INTERACTION-CENTRED APPROACHES OF EXPERIENCEThe product-centred approach aims to connect product features to experience andaims at creating elaborate checklists with criteria describing the product-relatedexperience contexts. This approach is focused on practical ways in which experiencescan be defined, distinguished, designed, evaluated and produced. There are manyexamples of experience theories within this approach, usually having titles containingthe words managing, building or delivering experiences. Person-centred approacheson the other hand, take the perspective of the individual and focus primarily on theindividual’’s experience and the elements that contribute to this. Instead of givingproduct-centred checklists, they usually give descriptions of general characteristics ofexperiences that are relevant. For example, the inherently personal nature of theeffects of experiences is a salient characteristic in definitions belonging to this category(e.g. Nijs & Peters, 2002; Schmitt, 1999). 56
  • 56. 2 | Research contextThe difference between the product-centred approach to experience and theperson-centred approach to experience can be clarified by using the distinctionthat Van Gool & Van Wijngaarden (2005) have made between two meanings ofthe term experience. The first way in which they define experiences is as thestimulus that can be sent or directed by a provider (for example an event, anattraction or an environment). The second meaning of the term experience is thereaction to this stimulus. The focus in the first definition is on the ‘‘something’’ theindividual is experiencing, and for this reason it belongs to the product-centredcategory. The second definition is focused on the effect on the individual, the reactionof the individual, and therefore belongs to the person-centred category.The third, interaction-centred category is not specifically focused on the product, noron the person, but on the relation between these: the interaction. Experiences withinthis category are described with terms like interaction, co-creation and participation(e.g. Poulsson & Kale, 2004; Millet & Millet, 2002; Shaw & Ivens, 2002; Shaw, 2005;Battarbee, 2004). The interaction, or the reciprocal relationship between theindividual and the product, is what determines the experience within this approach.In fact, for the interaction-centred approach to experiences the product is merely theconnective node in a network of the individual and his surroundings. The product issomething around which people have experiences. Some have even conceptualized aproduct as ““no more than an artifact around which customers have experiences””(Prahalad & Ramaswamy, 2000, p. 83). Forlizzi and Battarbee (2004) consider theinteraction-centred view as the most valuable perspective for understandingexperiences. By visualizing an experience as an act of co-creation, one is encouragedto consider the interaction of both the individual and the object the individual isexperiencing in any discourse on experiences (Poulsson & Kale, 2004).THE TRIPARTITE COMPOSITION OF THE CONCEPT OF EXPERIENCEThe distinction that Forlizzi and Battarbee (2004) have made between threeapproaches of experience which respectively focus more on the product, or what isexperienced, the person, or the effects for the person having the experience, and theinteraction, or the encounter between individuals and their environment, is notreserved for the description of experiences alone. Also in descriptions of concepts like 57
  • 57. creativity (e.g. agent, process and product in Couger, 1990), the distinction betweenobjectivism and subjectivism (e.g. subjects, being part of or separated from, changingand being changed by and the environment in Huizing, 2007) and learning (e.g.organism, interaction and environment in Bateson, 1972 and Neuman, 2006) thetriad of an individual, something in an environment and the encounter between thesetwo can be recognized. However, an exploration of the three components indefinitions of experience can help in conceptualizing the concept of experience. Thistripartite composition of the definition of experience, can for example be seen in thewritings of John Dewey (1938), who states: ““An experience is always what it is becauseof a transaction taking place between an individual and what, at the time, constituteshis environment”” (p.43). Also various dictionaries, thesauri and encyclopaedias showthree different components in the definition of experience. In the remaining part ofthis paragraph various definitions of experience are presented, grouped on the basis ofwhether the focus is on what is experienced, the effects that the individual experiencesand the encounter between the individual and the environment.FIRST COMPONENT OF EXPERIENCE: WHAT IS EXPERIENCEDAs can be seen in the definitions in table 2.1, these all begin with stating ‘‘what’’ it isthat is experienced: events, activities, occurrences, things, and so on. However, in thedefinitions also certain conditions to these events, activities, occurrences, things, etc.have been defined. To be able to call them experiences, they should affect one insome way, cause someone to learn something and /or have been personally livedthough. Not every event, activity, occurrence or thing in the individual’’s environmentshould be called an experience according to these sources, but only those that satisfythe conditions.In the following figure (figure 2.3) I have distinguished the core of the definitions intable 2.1 from the conditions. I have colour-coded every part of the definitions, toclarify which parts of the definitions refer to ‘‘what’’ is experienced (green), the effectsthe individual experiences (red) and the encounter between individuals and theirenvironment (purple). 58
  • 58. 2 | Research contextDefinitionan event or activity that affects you in some way (OAL)An event or a series of events participated in or lived through (AHD)An event or action from which you learn (OD)an event or occurrence which leaves an impression on one (OC)an event by which one is affected (OED)something that happens which has an effect on you (CD)something personally encountered, undergone, or lived through (MW)something that happens to you that affects how you feel (CALD)the things that have happened to you that influence the way you think and behave (OAL)the conscious events that make up an individual life (MW)all that is perceived, understood, and remembered (D)Table 2.1 –– Definitions of experience that are focused on what is experienced11The core of the definitions, on the left side of figure 2.3, consists of green entries, since‘‘what’’ in the individual’’s environment is experienced is the focus of the definitionsnamed in table 2.1. All statements referring to effects (red) and encounters (purple) areplaced on the right side, since these can be considered as conditions that the ‘‘what’’-components have to satisfy for them to be called experiences.11 AHD: The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language; CALD: Cambridge Advanced Lerner’’s Dictionary;CD: Cambridge Dictionary of American English; D:; MW: Merriam Webster; OAL: Oxford AdvancedLearning; OC: Oxford Compact; OD: Oxford Dictionary; OED: Oxford English Dictionary 59
  • 59. Core: Environment Environment Conditions Conditions • Event/ a series of events/ the • Event/ events/ • you way/ by which • that affects you in some way/ by which conscious events events events you how one is affected/ to you that affects how • Activity/ action • action you which leaves you feel/ which leaves an impression • Occurrence/ something/things that • which you/ on one/ which has an effect on you/ to happen, that have happened have happened you way you you that influence the way you think and behave behave behave • All • All • participated in or lived through/ • lived personally encountered, undergone, or undergone, lived through lived through • that make up an individual life • make life • from which you learn/ that is • which you perceived, understood, and perceived, remembered rememberedFigure 2.3 Environment-centred de nitions of experience, with distinction between core and conditionsFigure 2.3 – Environment-centred definitions of experience, with distinction between core and conditionsSECOND COMPONENT OF EXPERIENCE: THE EFFECTS THAT AN INDIVIDUAL ECOND COMPONENT OF EXPERIENCE THE EFFECTS THAT AN INDIVIDUALEXPERIENCESEXPERIENCESNot all definitions in the dictionaries, thesauri and encyclopaedias that were consultedNot all de itions the dictionaries, thesauri and encyclopaedias that were consultedare cused on ‘what’ is experienced. All the sources give multiple de nitions ofare focused on ‘what’ is experienced. All the sources give multiple definitions ofexperience, and in table 2.2 the d nitions cused on the ts th e in d iv id u a lexperience, and in table 2.2 the definitions focused on the effects the individualexperiences are presented.experiences are presented.The de nitions in table 2.2 can be analyzed based on their core, which is cused onThe definitions in table 2.2 can be analyzed based on their core, which is focused onthe effects on the individual, and the conditions these effects have satisfy accordingthe effects on the individual, and the conditions these effects have to satisfy according the sources. In figure 2.4 the distinction between core and conditionsto the sources. In figure 2.4 the distinction between core and conditions for these thesedefinitions is presented. Again I have used the same colour-codes, with all the red text,de nitions is presented. Again have used the same colour-codes, with all the red text,representing the core of the de nitions in table 2.2 that re r to the e cts that therepresenting the core of the definitions in table 2.2 that refer to the effects that theindividual experiences, on the left-side of gure 2.4.individual experiences, on the left-side of figure 2.4. 60
  • 60. 2 | Research contextDefinitionknowledge or skill which is obtained from doing, seeing or feeling things (CALD)knowledge or practical wisdom gained from what one has observed, encountered, or undergone (D)knowledge or skill acquired over time (OC)Knowledge or skill gained over time (OD)the knowledge and skill that you have gained through doing sth for a period of time; the process ofgaining this (OAL)The knowledge or skill so derived (AHD)Knowledge resulting from actual observation or from what one has undergone (OED)practical knowledge, skill, or practice derived from direct observation of or participation in events or in aparticular activity (MW)Personal knowledge derived from participation or observation (R)the impression on a person or animal of events (CE)the totality of the cognitions given by perception; all that is perceived, understood, and remembered (D)The fact of being consciously affected by an event. Also an instance of this (OED)the fact or state of having been affected by or gained knowledge through direct observation orparticipation (MW)Table 2.2 –– Definitions of experience that are focused on the effects for the individual1212 AHD: The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language; CALD: Cambridge Advanced Lerner’’s Dictionary;CE: The Columbia Encyclopedia; D:; MW: Merriam Webster; OAL: Oxford Advanced Learning; OC:Oxford Compact; OD: Oxford Dictionary; OED: Oxford English Dictionary; R: Roget’’s II 61
  • 61. Core: Effects Effects Conditions Conditions • • Practical/ personal knowledge, skill, knowledge, • which is obtained, gained, acquired, • which practice, wisdom , the totality of the practice, derived from doing, seeing or feeling derived doing, cognitions cognitions things, from what one has observed, things, observed, • the impression on a person or animal • animal encountered, or undergone, so derived undergone, derived • The fact of being consciously affected, • (so refers to Active participation in Active Also an instance of this, the fact or this, events or activities), resulting from events state of having been affected by or having by actual observation or from what one observation gained knowledge knowledge knowledge has undergone, from direct observation undergone, observation of or participation in events or in a events particular activity, through direct activity, observation observation or participation, given by given by perception perception • acquired/gained over time, that • over time, you ...have gained through doing sth you ...ha e ...hav for a period of time; the process of for gaining this this • of events, by an event,  • events, by event,Figure 2.4 Effect-centred de nitions of experience, with distinction between core and conditionsFigure 2.4 – Effect-centred definitions of experience, with distinction between core and conditions tTHIRD COMPONENT OF EXPERIENCE: THE ENCOUNTER BETWEEN INDIVIDUAL AND HIRD COMPONENT OF EXPERIENCE THE ENCOUNTER BETWEEN INDIVIDUAL ANDENVIRONMENTENVIRONMENTBesides de nitions that are cused on ‘what’ is experienced and def nitions that areBesides definitions that are focused on ‘what’ is experienced and definitions that arefocused on the effects that individuals experience, there are also definitions that focusfocused on the effects that individuals experience, there are also definitions that focusmainly on the process of an individual interacting with, or encountering the worldmainly on the process of an individual interacting with, or encountering the worldaround him. In table 2.3 these de nitions are presented.around him. In table 2.3 these definitions are presented.Again, parts of the de nitions were colour-coded to separate the core, the part that isAgain, parts of the definitions were colour-coded to separate the core, the part that isfocused on the encounter between individual and environment, from the conditions.focused on the encounter between individual and environment, from the conditions.Figure 2.5 shows the core and conditions r the de nitions in table 2.3.Figure 2.5 shows the core and conditions for the definitions in table 2.3. 62
  • 62. 2 | Research contextDefinition(the process of getting) knowledge or skill that is obtained from doing, seeing, or feeling things (CD)(the process of getting) knowledge or skill which is obtained from doing, seeing or feeling things (CALD)a particular instance of personally encountering or undergoing something (D)Active participation in events or activities, leading to the accumulation of knowledge or skill (AHD)direct observation of or participation in events as a basis of knowledge (MW)encounter or undergo (an event or occurrence) (OC)living through events (CE)practical contact with and observation of facts or events (OC)Practical involvement in an activity, event, etc. (OD)the act or process of directly perceiving events or reality (MW)The actual observation of facts or events, considered as a source of knowledge (OED)The apprehension of an object, thought, or emotion through the senses or mind (AHD)the observing, encountering, or undergoing of things generally as they occur in the course of time (D)the process or fact of personally observing, encountering, or undergoing something (D)To be physically aware of through the senses (R)To participate in or partake of personally (R)Undergo or be involved in (OD)Table 2.3 –– Definitions of experience that are focused on the encounter between individual andenvironment13THE THREE COMPONENTS OF EXPERIENCE: ENVIRONMENT, EFFECTS ANDENCOUNTERAs has been shown in figures 2.3 to 2.5, although definitions can be grouped togetherbased on the focus they have on a certain approach of experience, they also containelements of the other approaches that serve as conditions for what may be named anexperience. To construct a sound and integrative theoretical foundation for theexperience economy, all three aspects, the environment, the effects and the encounter13 AHD: The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language; CALD: Cambridge Advanced Lerner’’s Dictionary;CD: Cambridge Dictionary of American English; CE: The Columbia Encyclopedia; D:; MW: MerriamWebster; OC: Oxford Compact; OD: Oxford Dictionary; OED: Oxford English Dictionary; R: Roget’’s II 63
  • 63. should therefore be taken into account. Figure 2.6 summarizes what has beenshould there re be taken into account. Figure 2.6 summarizes what has beenpresented in figures 2.3 to 2.5.presented in gures 2.3 to 2.5. Core: Encounter Encounter Conditions Conditions • • (the process of getting), that is • leading to the accumulation of, as a • of, obtained from doing, seeing, or feeling, doing, seeing, feeling, basis of, considered as a source of of, The apprehension, through the senses knowledge knowledge or skill skill or mind mind • things, something, events, facts, • things, something, events, facts, • (a particular instance of) Active • Active activities, occurrence, reality, an object, activities, occurrence, reality, participation, direct observation of, observation of, thought, or emotion , things generally (personally) encountering or they as they occur in the course of time time undergoing, living through, practical undergoing, • Personally • Personally Personally contact with, Practical involvement in, involvement the act or process of directly perceiving, The actual observation, To perceiving, observation, To be physically aware of through the physically aware senses, To partake of senses, To partake ofFigure 2.5 Encounter-centred de nitions of experience, with distinction between core and conditionsFigure 2.5 – Encounter-centred definitions of experience, with distinction between core and conditionsBe re exploring how the three components of the concept of experience can beBefore exploring how the three components of the concept of experience can berecognized in current business and marketing literature, it is good to take step backrecognized in current business and marketing literature, it is good to take a step back see how the different concepts that have been discussed so far are related with eachto see how the different concepts that have been discussed so far are related with eachother. Figure 2.7 shows the relations between the di rent concepts that have beenother. Figure 2.7 shows the relations between the different concepts that have beendiscussed in this chapter.discussed in this chapter. 64
  • 64. 2 | Research context Research context Environment Environment Encounter Encounter Effects Effects • Event/ events/ • Event/ a series of events/ • lived • participated in or lived • you • that affects you in some events the conscious events events through/ personally way/ by which way/ by which one is • Activity • Activity undergone, encountered, undergone,  you affected/ to you that • Action • Action • • obtained, gained, affects how you feel/ how you derived acquired, derived from which leaves which leaves an • Occurrence • Occurrence  doing, feeling, doing, seeing or feeling, impression on one/ which which • • Something/things that that observed, observed, encountered, you/ has an effect on you/ to have happen, that have you you that influence the way way given by given by perception, happened happened you think and behave you behave behave over time acquired/gained over time • All • All • • that make up an make • • the process of gaining • things, something, events, • things, something, events, this, this, the apprehension, individual life life facts, activities, facts, activities, through the senses or • • from which you learn/ which you occurrence, reality, occurrence, reality, an mind mind that is perceived, perceived, object, thought, or understood, and • • (a particular instance of) emotion , things generally Active participation, Active remembered remembered as they occur in the they direct observation of, observation of, • Practical/ personal • course of time time (personally) encountering knowledge, practice, knowledge, skill, practice, or undergoing, living undergoing, wisdom , the totality of through, practical contact the cognitions cognitions with, practical • the impression on a • involvement in, the act or involvement person or animal animal process of directly • The fact of being • perceiving, The actual perceiving, consciously affected, Also observation, To be observation, To an instance of this, the this, physically aware of physically aware fact or state of having having through the senses, To senses, To been affected by orby partake of partake of gained knowledge knowledge knowledge • leading to the • accumulation of, as a of, basis of, considered as a of, source of knowledge or knowledge skill skill • Personally • Personally PersonallyFigure 2.6 Three components of the definition of experienceFigure 2.6 – Three components of the definition of experience 65
  • 65. Dematerialization Experiences Environment Effects EncounterFigure 2.7 –– Aspects of experiences in a broader context of dematerializationExperiences are one of the expressions of the development in the economy I havecalled dematerialization, and there are three components to be distinguished withinthe definitions of experience, each representing a different approach of the concept,each with a different perspective on the phenomenon. The perspective that is taken inthe environment-centred approach is on ‘‘what’’ is experienced in the individual’’senvironment. The effect-centred approach focuses on the effects that this individualexperiences. Finally, the encounter-centred approach focuses on the encounterbetween individuals and their environment. In the next paragraph I will show howthese three approaches can also be recognized in current business and marketingliterature and how the way the concept of experience is dealt with within eachapproach in this literature causes a bias in the discourse on the experience economy. 66
  • 66. 2 | Research context2.4 RESEARCH PROBLEM: EXPERIENCE ECONOMY AS A MEANS FORDECOMMODITIZATIONWhen recent literature on experiences within the contexts of business andmarketing is viewed in the light of the three different approaches described inparagraph 2.3, a bias in the discourse on experiences becomes apparent for each ofthe three approaches. As I indicated in paragraph 1.1, the reason that is usually givenfor the emergence of an experience economy, is that goods and services have beencommoditized and that new ways for differentiating one’’s offerings have to be foundto prevent competition based solely on price. Commoditization means that productsbecome so widely available and mutually interchangeable that consumers cannotdistinguish them from each other anymore and make their choices based on price. Byfinding ways to add value to the offerings, one can prevent this commoditization andmaintain or even increase profit margins. Or at least, this seems to be the assumptionin the experience economy discourse if one studies current literature in the fields ofmarketing and business. Whichever of the three approaches in literature one looks at:one can clearly recognize a bias towards an organizational perspective, in which thefocus lies on what the organization can and should do to add value to the offeringsand prevent commoditization. In this paragraph I will give an overview of howexperience is interpreted in each of the three approaches in current literature on theexperience economy, and indicate how commoditization has caused a bias towardsthe organizational perspective, which in its turn causes a gap in the existingknowledge on experience. I will present the gaps I notice in the way experiences aredealt with in current business and marketing literature and argue that incorporatingthe individual’’s perspective offsets the bias in each of the three approaches.2.4.1 BIAS AND GAPS IN THE ENVIRONMENT-CENTRED APPROACH OF THEEXPERIENCE ECONOMYAs was explained in the former paragraph, the environment-centred approach isfocused on ‘‘what’’ (events, activities, objects etc.) is experienced. In the currentexperience economy discourse there is still much debate on whether experiences areenhanced products, enhanced services, distinct economic offerings or bundles offeatures, which causes confusion on what in fact is an experience. Another topic of 67
  • 67. debate is whether experiences are produced by organizations or not. By neglectingthe individual’’s perspective, experiences are dealt with as if they were physicalproducts with objective features which can be managed by organizations and it willremain unclear what the organization is exactly offering as I will show.EXPERIENCES AS ENHANCED PRODUCTS OR SERVICES OR AS DISTINCT ECONOMICOFFERINGSIn business and marketing literature on experience, experiences are often seen anddealt with as if they are products. The focus then is on the features and internalprocesses within the organisation that can be managed in order to produce anexperience. Literature is for example focused on connecting product features toexperience, creating elaborate checklists with criteria describing the experiencecontexts, and practical ways in which experiences can be defined, distinguished,designed, evaluated and produced. Books that belong within this approach, forexample contain self-assessment tests (e.g. Shaw, 2005) or tests and ‘‘lessons learned’’-sections at the end of each chapter (e.g. Ford & Heaton, 2000). Other books present atoolkit that readers can use to design an experience (e.g. Smith & Wheeler, 2002) andsubdivide the experience into manageable stages (e.g. the Driving ImprovedCustomer Experience model (Shaw & Ivens, 2002)), levels (e.g. the CustomerExperience Pyramid™™ (Shaw, 2005; Shaw & Ivens, 2002)), touch points (e.g. theExperience Touchpoint Charts and Pallettes (Millet & Millet, 2002)) or moments (e.g.Moment Mapping® (Shaw, 2005)).In a way, organisations are doing what they have always done: they try to avoidcommoditization and create new ways of differentiating themselves from competitors.The alleged commoditization of products and services is exactly the reason that isgiven in theories within this approach for paying attention to experiences. The stagingof memorable experiences, using goods as props and services as a stage to engagecustomers, is what Pine and Gilmore (1999) see as the solution to the problem ofcommoditization. In fact their solution appears to be convincing to business since therichest fifth of the world’’s population now spends almost as much of its incomeaccessing experiences as on buying manufactured goods and basic services (Rifkin, 68
  • 68. 2 | Research context2000). Pine and Gilmore (1999) see the staging of experiences as distinct economicofferings as a logical new economic phase in the progression of value, after thephases of commodities, products, and services.According to Pine and Gilmore (1999), experiences are distinct economic offerings,distinct from services, as services are distinct from goods, and goods fromcommodities. However, not in all literature within the environment-centred approachthis distinct nature of experiences is present. To use the categorization of O’’Sullivanand Spangler (1998), there appear to be three kinds of organizations active in theexperience industry: experience makers, experience enhancers, and experienceinfusers. Experience makers create experiences as entities in themselves. Here we findcompanies that create experiences as distinct offerings. Examples would be theamusement, leisure, and entertainment industry, plus certain segments of thehospitality industry. Experience enhancers use experiences to enhance the viabilityand attractiveness of their services. Enhancers are generally found in the morepersonalized segments of the service industry, for example hospitals, airlines, shoppingmalls, etc. An example of this idea is the Experience Engagement Process (LaSalle &Britton, 2003, pp. 47-69) in which the stages of the decision-making process aconsumer has to go through are analyzed, and in each stage negative cues areremoved and experiential elements are added, helping the consumer go through thestages more smoothly.Experience infusers deal with experiences in yet another way. They infuse elements ofexperiences into their products to increase sales. They identify the experiences theirclients find desirable and the psychic needs their clients have and then connect tothese. Usually infusers incorporate these elements in the marketing mix. One way ofdoing this is by incorporating one or more of Schmitt’’s (1999) ‘‘Strategic ExperienceModules’’: Sense, Feel, Think, Act, and/or Relate (p. 64), respectively with the aim ofappealing to the senses of the individual, to his mood and emotions, to his intellect, tohis behaviour and lifestyle, or to his desire to belong to a certain group. Jensen (1999)on the other hand, speaks of connecting stories to the offerings. By connecting storiesabout adventure, love and friendship, care, self-identity, peace of mind, or beliefs orconvictions to the offering, value is allegedly added to the offering.The environment-centred approach thus consists of three very different types ofexperiences: experiences as distinct economic offerings, services enhanced by 69
  • 69. experience and even products infused with experience, all considered to be parts ofthe experience economy. When the economy shifted from a goods or industrialeconomy to a service economy, it was also difficult to draw a straight line betweenpure goods and pure services because of all the offerings that were neither in a pureform. For this reason scholars have made a continuum of goods and servicesdepending on their mix of tangible and intangible aspects (e.g. Rathmell, 1966;Shostack, 1977; 1987; Zeithaml, 1981), which is shown in figure 2.8. As thiscontinuum indicates, ““teaching services might be at one end of such a scale, intangibleor I-dominant, while salt might represent the other extreme, tangible or T-dominant””(Shostack, 1977, p.75, italics in original). Salt Softdrinks Detergents Automobiles Cosmetics Fast-food outlets Intangible dominant Tangible dominant Fast-food outlets Advertising Airlines agencies Investment management Consulting TeachingFigure 2.8 –– Scale of market entities (Shostack, 1977, p. 77)The scale of market entries, or the goods-services-continuum as it is also named, hasbeen expanded to also apply in the experience economy. The location on thecontinuum shown in figure 2.9 is determined by the extent to which the benefits ofgoods take precedence over the benefits of services and the extent to which theelements of experience take precedence over the components of services.However, it remains difficult to understand experiences when the term experience isused for products, services as well as distinct economic offerings. With many of thepost-rationalized examples that are found in literature and considering the fact thatmany authors see products, services and experiences as lying on a continuum, one can 70
  • 70. 2 | Research contextask oneself if the alleged success of cases was indeed caused by the experientialelements or instead by exceptional functional features of products or servicebenefits. Relatively Good/ Relatively Service/ Relatively pure good service pure experience pure hybrid service hybrid experienceFigure 2.9 –– Goods-Services-Experience Continuum (O’’Sullivan & Spangler, 1998, p. 19)EXPERIENCES AS BUNDLES OF FEATURESAccording to many authors, every time a customer comes into contact with a productor a company, he has an experience; the only thing that has changed is thatcompanies should now focus on managing the experience and all elements, or clues,that are part of it (Adcox & Wittenstein, 2003; Carbone, 1999; 2004; Shaw & Ivens,2002; Shaw, 2005; O’’Sullivan & Spangler, 1998; Schmitt, 1999; Millet & Millet, 2002;Jones, 1999). Improving the experience by managing experience clues can be done intwo ways: by improving the breadth and by improving the depth of clues (Carbone,2004). Experiential breadth refers to the boundaries of the system used for managingthe experience. Are the clues in every phase of the experience managed or only insome phases or parts of the phases? Experiential depth, on the other hand, refers tothe quantity, uniqueness and sensory diversity of clues. In this theory, the more phasesthat are managed and the more clues that are incorporated, the better the experience.However, a problem with this way of dealing with experiences is that if exceptionalexperiences can be offered to people by exceptional management of experience clues 71
  • 71. and features, then knowledge of these clues and how to manage them would giveeveryone the same advantage in the experience economy and destroy thedifferentiating function of experiences. Benchmarking, checklists and blindly copyingelements from competitors in practice rarely help in becoming successful in theexperience economy (Carbone, 2004). Indeed, success of economic offerings will alsobe dependent on what the customer finds important in the specific situation andcontext he finds himself in.In some situations consumers are primarily interested in what they can gain from thephysical characteristics or technical performance of a product, from the so-calledobjective features of the product that are under control of the organization. Therelevant features of the product in this case are a big influence on the functionalbenefits for the consumer. Products that primarily provide this type of value are calledutilitarian, since it is their use, their utility, that motivates individuals to buy andconsume them. Examples are many use products, such as cooking oil, detergent andcartridges. These are all products that are instrumental to some goal outside ofthemselves, which is why we call the motivation for consuming these products‘‘extrinsic’’. These products are functional, and this functionality is the core value ofconsuming them. Functionality is mainly dependent on the objective features of theproduct and the subjective response of the individual usually has little or no influence.““If we are upset about something or especially nervous or unusually happy, ourfeeling has no impact on the way the flashlight works”” (Addis & Holbrook, 2001, p.59). Extrinsically motivated experiences that mainly have utilitarian value are oftencalled errands or work (Batra & Ahtola, 1991; Holbrook & Hirschman, 1982). Theyare ‘‘productive experiences’’ that have a practical goal (Shedroff, 1994) and theconsumer is often just glad when the transaction is over and done with (Babin,Darden & Griffin, 1994).However, this view that the value or quality of an experience is dependent on theobjective features that are under the control of the organization is not shared byeveryone. Many claim that quality is not what the organisation puts in, but what thecustomer gets out; quality or value are not objective features of an object but dependon the perception of an individual (Heskett, Sasser & Schlesinger, 1997; Zeithaml,Parasuraman & Berry, 1990). The inward focus of the environment-centred approach 72
  • 72. 2 | Research contextin marketing and business literature on the role of the organization in producingexperiences as economic offerings with the ‘‘right’’ objective features is not sufficientfor understanding the experience economy, because it causes the organization toneglect the various possible conceptualizations of experience.THE PRODUCTION OF EXPERIENCESMuch attention is given to the fact that goods and services have been commoditizedand that it is time to find new differentiators to create value. Focusing on aspects asreliability and functional quality is not enough anymore, these are taken for grantednowadays, and organizations should make, infuse or enhance experiences. Still, manyorganizations are focused on the supply-side of the experience and on the internalproduction processes. They want experiences to be measurable and repeatable so theyinvent elaborate systems for managing the stages of the exchange as they see them (e.g.Shaw, 2005; Ford & Heaton, 2000; Smith & Wheeler, 2002; Shaw & Ivens, 2002;Millet & Millet, 2002). However, if the quality or value of an experience is ‘‘in the eyeof the beholder’’, is determined and judged by individuals, knowledge on the supply ofexperiences and on the internal production-procedures for producing an experience isclearly not enough for understanding experiences. By trying to manage andstandardize all aspects in the process, for example by describing specific clues andthemes that organizations should use in the experience, organizations arestandardizing their offerings, which leads to commoditization. This development hasled to more and bigger experience environments and the phenomenon of spaces thatare ““over retailed”” (Adcox & Wittenstein, 2003, p. 89), which means that there now ismore space per capita than ever dedicated to retail, movie theatres and amusementcenters. Retail has become a stage or ‘‘Brand Theater’’ (Beck, 2003) and a ‘‘pleasureperiphery’’ has emerged, which refers to areas just outside cities where hugemultifunctional leisure centers have been built to ‘‘give’’ people experiences (Metz,2002). Another term for these centers that combine retail, cinema, restaurants, andattraction projects is ‘‘Location Based Entertainment’’ (Beck, 2003), in which the focuson the environmental aspect of the experience is clear. With all the passiveentertainment elements and architecturally-based décor that is integrated into theenvironment to attract and entice individuals, everything is starting to look the same 73
  • 73. (Bills, 2003; Lengkeek, 2000), which has caused some people to plead for ‘‘experience-diversity’’ (De Vries, 1999).Another problem is that organisations that script and stage complete productions fortheir customers and that try to maximally stimulate the senses of their customers, runthe risk of eventually boring their customers. Overwhelming sensory experiences mayexcite curiosity but not loyalty (Ransom, 1998) and they are associated withsuperficiality (Norton, 2003). Experience is not about presenting something, howeverexciting as it may be, in the environment of the individual, but it is about realengagement of the individual (O’’Sullivan & Spangler, 1998) and about connecting tothe individual’’s value system and worldview (Nijs & Peters, 2002). In fact, in 2003Van der Loo and Rohde have done research into the attitude of young peopletowards the experience economy. Only 17% claimed to have a positive attitudetowards experiences, 13% stated that they thought experiences contributed to ameaningful life. A majority (51%) indicated that their attitude towards experienceshad become more negative compared to one year earlier. The research was focusedon ‘‘first generation experiences’’, experiences that are related mostly to entertainmentand escapism. When panel members were asked for positive associations they hadwith first generation experiences they named terms like Attractive (e.g. young, fresh,dynamic), Active (e.g. adventurous, will to fight), Interesting (e.g. exciting, playful),Kicks and Fun. Negative associations were: Incredible (e.g. manipulative, exploitative,hypocritical), American (e.g. artificial, commercial, superficial), Commercial (e.g.expensive, not your money’’s worth), Uniform (e.g. boring, restrictive, all the same),Aggressive (e.g. pushy, loud, bluff), and technical (e.g. cold, uninterested, insensitive)(Van der Loo & Rohde, 2003, pp. 32-33). These associations, the positive as well asthe negative, do not indicate a connection to the individual and his or her values andworldviews. When the respondents were asked for what characteristics their idealexperiences would have, they indicated that they did desire this connection. Theypreferred small-scaled, intimate and personal experiences. However, to be able toconnect to the individuals’’ values and worldviews and offer these intimate andpersonal experiences, it is necessary to understand how individuals experience theworld (Ford & Heaton, 2000; Sheth, Newman & Gross, 1991). 74
  • 74. 2 | Research contextFROM AN ORGANIZATIONAL TO AN INDIVIDUAL’’S PERSPECTIVE ON EXPERIENCEWhat happens when the organizational perspective is replaced by the individual’’sperspective is that knowledge that was first neglected comes into view (Addis &Holbrook, 2001; Falk & Campbell, 1997; Hirschman & Holbrook, 1982). Forexample, from the viewpoint of an organization, products can be seen as fixedbundles of functional features, but from the individual’’s perspective a product mayhave a narrative (Forlizzi, 1997), symbolic (Levy, 1959; Addis & Holbrook, 2001;Hirschman & Holbrook, 1982; Solomon, 1988; McCracken, 1988a; Belk, 1988;Dittmar, 1992) and dynamic (Battarbee, 2004; Rhea, 1992) nature. Also, thedistinction between products, services and experiences is a distinction that may beuseful from an organization’’s perspective, but it is doubtful that individuals care muchabout it as long as they receive what they want. This change of perspective also hasimplications for the roles that organizations and individuals play in the experienceeconomy.Focusing on the context of consumption, the individual’’s role traditionally consisted oftwo phases: the transaction, and the use of products transacted for. This second rolehas often been neglected but is attracting much attention nowadays (Cain, 1998;Margolin, 1997) in an attempt to arrive at a clear understanding of the ‘‘whole system’’(Boyd & Levy, 1963). Authors speak of ‘‘inging the thing’’ to divert attention awayfrom the object and toward the use-phase (Pine & Gilmore, 1999, p. 15), and the needfor creating ‘‘holistic’’ experiences in which companies don’’t sell soap, cars and lipsticks,but cleanliness, transportation, and beauty (Kotler & Levy, 1969; Schmitt, 2003;Goossens, 2000). More attention is required for the rituals surrounding the use ofproducts (Hudspith, 1997; Hummels, 1999), and the meaning these products have forindividuals (Gengler & Reynolds, 1995; Holbrook & Schindler, 2003). The growingrecognition of the importance of the meaning of products and use of the productbeyond the point of purchase causes a greater need for knowledge about theindividual’’s perspective on experience and the value experiences may have forindividuals. With this shift of attention from the organization’’s perspective to theindividual’’s perspective, comes also more attention for the influence that individualshave on the experience. The techniques used for gaining an understanding of theindividual’’s perspective are also radically different from the ones that are used intraditional inward focused organizations (Carbone, 1999; 2004; Zaltman, 1997; 75
  • 75. Zaltman & Higie, 1993; Adcox & Wittenstein, 2003; Levy, 1981), which lead to self-referential results (Fornell, 1976; Baudrillard, 1983). ““Customers don’’t break theirexperiences down into twenty-seven different operational-based processes, analyze theexecution of each process, and tabulate and average the results to determine whetherthey’’ve had a great customer experience,”” (Millet & Millet, 2002, pp. 42-43).Customers don’’t care about the fact that ““we can build multiattribute models thatpredict preference toward toothpaste; we can generate complex multidimensionalspaces that represent perceptions of cigarettes; we can construct devilishly cleverprocedures that trace the acquisition of information on cereal brands; we can —— withour bare hands —— construct mighty regression analyses that relate detergent usage to300 separate life-style variables. In short —— when it comes to factors of leastimportance to the consumer’’s emotional, cultural, and spiritual existence —— we excel””(Holbrook, 1980, in (Christensen & Cheney, 2000). Research, to provide meaningfulresults, should make use of techniques found in for example ethnography (Adcox &Wittenstein, 2003; Berthon, Holbrook & Hulbert, 2003) and most importantly, itshould view the experience as a whole, as a Gestalt, not as a series of distinctcomponents (Chartrand, 1987; Holbrook, 1986).Some authors speak of a customer revolution (Seybold, 1998) or even a Copernicanrevolution that is happening (Zuboff & Maxmin, 2002), changing the approach tobusiness as a whole (Yastrow, 2003). Organizations, from the individual’’s perspective,are not the centre of the universe. The individual is the centre of his or her ownuniverse, and organizations are part of his or her environment, part of society. Notonly does this mean that organizations should reconcile their self-enhancing valueswith other values (Kotler & Levy, 1971; Schumacher, 1973; Norton, 2003), but it alsomeans that organizations should disembed from their own viewpoint to see what theindividual sees. Individuals, for example, ““intuitively look at a function beingperformed, such as checking in at an airport, and ask themselves why theirsupermarket will open another checkout if there are more than three people queuing,but the airline doesn’’t: a reasonable question. This means you have to look acrossindustries”” (Shaw & Ivens, 2002, pp. 31-32).Of course, knowledge about the viewpoint of the individual may be used in differentways. Millet and Millet (2002) speak of customer-focused and customer-manipulative 76
  • 76. 2 | Research contextorganizations in this respect. A customer-focused organization uses the knowledgeto provide customers with the offerings and experiences they need and want.Customer-manipulative organizations on the other hand use the knowledge toconvince customers to buy whatever the organization wants to sell. Of course thisdistinction between orientations does not have to do per se with companies andcustomers, but it can just as easily be applied to teachers and students, politicians andcitizens, or in whichever situation one party tries to manage, control, and influencewhat the other party does. The problem with the manipulative orientation is that it iscompletely inward focused and the connection with the outside world is lost.THE BIAS IN THE ENVIRONMENT-CENTRED APPROACH OF EXPERIENCEAccording to literature in the environment-centred approach organizations in anexperience-economy should be focused on producing experiences as economicofferings with the ‘‘right’’ objective features and experiences are seen and dealt with asproducts by focusing inward on production processes. Within this perspective, thefocus remains on the organisation. The organisation offers the experience, it managesall elements of the experience and it is the organisation that creates value. When onefocuses exclusively on the elements that are under control of the organisation, a largepart of what makes an experience valuable is not recognized. Experiences are notunder complete control of the organization and therefore one should doubt theusefulness of how-to guides for producing, staging and building experiences with thegoal of combating commoditization. Furthermore there is more and more critique onthe commodification that goes along with certain parts of the experience economy asI have shown in this paragraph. To be able to deal with this critique and to be able toreally face commoditizing forces in the economy, the perspective of the individual willhave to be accounted for in the experience economy discourse. The experienceeconomy discourse should be broadened by not just focusing on the organizationalperspective on what experience is, but by incorporating other conceptualizations ofexperience from an individual’’s perspective. 77
  • 77. 2.4.2 BIAS AND GAPS IN THE EFFECT-CENTRED APPROACH OF THE EXPERIENCEECONOMYAs was shown in paragraph 2.3, the effect-centred approach focuses primarily on theeffects the individual experiences and the role of organizations in managing andproducing predetermined hedonic effects. In this paragraph I will explore what kindsof effects the current literature on experiences is focused on and what roleorganizations play in the experience economy according to this literature. Theassumption that the experience economy is an answer in preventing thecommoditization of economic offerings, has caused a bias towards the organizationalperspective of managing hedonic effects and a neglect of the influence that theindividual has on the effects he or she experiences (for example in terms of theintensity of the effects, the type of emotions he experiences and the meaning heattaches to what happens to him). Incorporating the individual’’s perspective will offsetthe bias towards the organizational perspective and will make clear that there areother types of effects individuals can experience besides hedonic effects.IN SEARCH OF NEW DIFFERENTIATORSAs I explained in paragraph 1.1, the commoditization of goods and services ispresented as the cause of the rise of the experience economy. The perception of valueis therefore seen to consist of more than a trade-off between quality and pricenowadays. Satisfiers, aspects of products or services that, when present, should causesatisfaction, have become dissatisfiers, aspects that are expected and taken for grantedand can only cause dissatisfaction when absent (e.g. Green & Jordan, 2002).According to many authors there is a lack of attention for the emotional and irrationalaspects involved in experiences and an excessive focus on functional and utilitarianaspects (Schmitt, 1999; Snowden, 1999; Mathwick, Malhotra & Rigdon, 2001; Sheth,Newman & Gross, 1991). Quality, reliability, pricing, brand, or for that matter any ofthe traditional differentiators ““have become unspoken requirements, tickets to entry””(Shaw & Ivens, 2002, p. viii). When viewing value from a traditional inwardperspective, it is usually interpreted narrowly as a tradeoff between traditionaldifferentiators like quality and price (Dodds & Monroe, 1985). But while most authorsagree that value involves trading off benefits against sacrifices, they consider the 78
  • 78. 2 | Research contextbenefits to consist of more than quality (Flint, Woodruff & Gardial, 2002; Bolton& Drew, 1991; Sweeney & Soutar, 2001).Many models have been developed to show the different kinds of benefitsindividuals can receive besides the functional quality. Examples of these types of‘‘extra benefits’’ are Sheth, Newman and Gross’’s (1991) social, emotional, epistemicand conditional value, Schmitt’’s (1999) values of Sense (entertainment), Feel (self-actualization), Think (learning), Relate (social relationships) and Act (participation),and Campbell Jr.’’s (2002) symbolic and experiential benefits. These ‘‘extra’’ benefitsare often presented as the connection between the attributes of objects and the valuesof individuals. According to procedures like the Means-End theory, ladderingtechnique and Meaning Structure Analysis (Gengler & Reynolds, 1995; Goossens,2000; Reynolds & Gutman, 1988; Woodruff, 1997; Clemons & Woodruff, 1992)individuals translate attributes into benefits. The features of objects are thusinterpreted by individuals as symbols of the associated benefits or consequences.Based on the goals and values of the individual, he or she attaches importance tothese benefits. Using these procedures one can gain an understanding of why anindividual attaches a certain meaning to certain objects and how he or she arrives atcertain choices. The basic structure of attributes, benefits and values can be mademore specific by distinguishing between concrete and abstract attributes, functionaland psychosocial consequences and instrumental and terminal values, to gain an evendeeper understanding of the relationships between these construals (Bagozzi &Dabholkar, 2000; Bagozzi & Dholakia, 1999).A FOCUS ON HEDONIC EFFECTSIn search of new differentiators many assumptions have been made about whatindividuals value and what their desires are. A review of literature on this subjectprovides a myriad of potential, mostly hedonic, differentiators. Individuals allegedlywant to be surprised, mesmerized, seduced, enhanced, enriched, pampered,entertained, inspired, scared, touched, amused, shocked, stimulated, dazzled,enthralled (Dagevos, 2001; Jensen, 1999; Wolf, 1999; Mommaas, 2000; Schulze,2000; Cauter, 1995; Scheerder, 2000; Goossens, 2000; Poulsson & Kale, 2004;Postman, 2005) and this list is not exhaustive. 79
  • 79. The effects that individuals are claimed to search for in the experience economy donot merely consist of good results and a qualitative process anymore, but also ofeffects like fun, surprise, seduction etc. De Cauter (1995) sums up the growingconcern with hedonic effects by stating that the late modern society we live in ischaracterized by ‘‘experience hunger’’. Even in churches people are claimed to belooking for kicks, events and entertainment, and reading the bible should be fun andpersonally engaging (Oevermans, 1999). Agritainment, edutainment and entertailingare some of the other terms that show that entertainment is pervasive nowadays.Everything seems to revolve around entertainment:““For all practical purposes, the U.S. today is a 24- hour, TV entertainment society.Everything in contemporary America is an entertainment, from sporting event to bigbusiness, politics, certainly religion, and even academia. If it isn’’t fun, cute, orpackaged in a ten-second sound bite, then forget it. If it can’’t be presented with asmiling, cheerful, sexy face, then it ain’’t worth attending to”” (Mitroff & Bennis, 1989,p. 7).““The creative and technical prowess of entertainment has escaped the theme parkand now services an international marketplace hungry for experiences, not things...The entertainment agenda has exploded in the last decade, influencing the characterof commercial, leisure, cultural, and educational design projects. Entertainmentattractions have leapt out of their traditional locations to become the new anchors forretail centers, or stand alone urban development magnets. Museums and ScienceCenters now seek entertainment technologies to tell their stories”” (Beck G. , 2003, pp.2-4).With everything becoming entertainment the question is whether pleasurableemotions and moods are even the effects organisations should strive for. With thegrowing critique on the superficiality of spectacular staged experiences (e.g. Van derLoo & Rohde, 2003), one could better aim for other kinds of effects. According toNorton (2003) the largest unmet need consists of meaningful experiences in which onecan participate. Wolfe and Snyder (2003) speak of ‘‘being experiences’’ that facilitatepersonal growth and development. If one looks at the objects that people are mostattached to, one sees that these are indeed the objects that are imbued with personal 80
  • 80. 2 | Research contextmeaning and that have become symbolic of meaningful experiences and personalconcerns of the individual (Csikszentmihalyi & Rochberg-Halton, 1981; Holbrook& Schindler, 2003).However, organizations go out of their way to invent even more, even bigger andeven more impressive spectacles, turning feelings into commodities (Debord, 1994).The problem is that the connection with the individual is often missing. Only the kick,the immediate stimulus, the rush of the moment, is of importance (Scheerder, 2000).Also, with so many choices between possible kicks and rushes and a fixed amount oftime at one’’s disposal, efficiency and effectiveness become important criteria forexperiencing, and the experiential return-on-investment should be guaranteedupfront to individuals (Mommaas, 2000). However, evoking all those feelings andemotions in individuals through staged experiences is not as simple a process as isoften argued. There is a human being involved and emotions and other effects are theresult of a complex psychological process, in which the individual him- or herself playsa big role.THE INDIVIDUAL’’S INFLUENCE ON HEDONIC EFFECTSIn hedonic consumption experiences, the relative weight of the individual’’s subjectiveresponse is greater than that of the objective features of the product. While ““If we areupset about something or especially nervous or unusually happy, our feeling has noimpact on the way the flashlight works”” (Addis & Holbrook, 2001, p. 59), our feelingsdo have an impact on our hedonic consumption experiences when consuming forexample products like ice cream or dinners in one’’s favourite restaurant. Theseproducts and the value they elicit are called hedonic since the motivation forconsuming them has to do with the, hopefully pleasurable, feelings the experienceprovides. Figure 2.10 shows the relation between products in which the objectivefeatures are dominant in determining the value and products in which the subjectiveresponses are more dominant.Gamelike (Deighton & Grayson, 1995) or ‘‘creative experiences’’ that allow individualsto create, make, entertain, or do something themselves (Shedroff, 1994) .The emotions, expectations and motivations with which individuals enter theexperience, have a great influence on their experience. Understanding the nature of 81
  • 81. the individual’’s motivation is important for many reasons. Fun, in opposition to work,is intrinsically motivated (Hassenzahl, 2004). In fun the process itself, the activity, isimportant and the goals are subservient to the activity. They serve only to frame theaction. Conditions that are exciting and challenging in a fun situation will cause stresswhen one is working and in the same way conditions that are beneficial in a worksituation may spoil the fun in a fun situation according to Hassenzahl (2004).Holbrook and Gardner (1998) noted comparable effects. Their research on theduration of consumption experiences has shown that pleasure only contributespositively under intrinsically as opposed to extrinsically motivated orientations. Whenthe individual is extrinsically motivated he wants to achieve his goal in the mosteffective and efficient way possible, whereas an intrinsically motivated individual isenjoying the process and would like it to last. To understand what an organizationshould and should not do one therefore should have a clear idea of the nature of theindividual’’s motivation. The difference between extrinsic and intrinsic motivatedorientation can even account for seemingly strange behaviour in which an individualsubjects himself to a very negative experience. Usually one wants to ‘‘collect’’ positiveexperiences (nice dinners, listening to the music one likes, enjoying a movie) and avoid,or at least not repeat, the negative ones (travel delays, unpleasant interaction withpersonnel). But sometimes, when there is a strong enough extrinsic motivation, onedeliberately searches out negative experiences. One could think of aversion training(negative experience) to overcome a phobia or addiction (strong extrinsic motivation).THE INTENSITY OF EFFECTSJust like there are some motivations that are stronger than others (compare buying apencil to write something down, with the abovementioned aversion training toovercome an addiction) there are also more and less intense effects that an experiencecan have. Many smaller emotional responses build up to yield larger experiences overtime. As time passes by the smallest experiences are forgotten or become sub-conscious. One typically only remembers the larger experiences, the extremelyemotional experiences and experiences that connect to other experiences (Forlizzi &Battarbee, 2004). These experiences can be said to be highly involving; they become 82
  • 82. 2 | Research context‘‘events’’ in people’’s lives, and may provide grounds for talk and even criticalreflection (Christensen & Cheney, 2000). Balanced products Utilitarian products Weight of objective features Hedonic products Weight of subjective responsesFigure 2.10 –– The weight of objective features versus subjective responses in consumption experiences (Addisand Holbrook, 2001, p. 58)Also Van Gool and Van Wijngaarden (2005) distinguish levels in the effects a personcan derive from experiences, ranging from basic to transforming. The impact of abasic experience is low, it is not strong enough to change the person or have himremember the experience for a long time. They mention some possible reasons for thelack of impact: prior expectations may not have been satisfied, the engagement orinvolvement of the individual in the activity may have been insufficient, or theexperience was not sufficiently connected to the relevant personal values of theindividual.Memorable experiences are on a higher impact-level. They are more intense than thebasic experience, and are remembered for a longer time partly because personalengagement is higher, the experience is sufficiently challenging or the experienceconnects to the personal value system according to Van Gool and Van Wijngaarden(2005). Although the impact of a memorable experience is greater than that of a basic 83
  • 83. experience, it does not have to lead to permanent change. Permanent change in theindividual is what characterizes ‘‘transformations’’. The life-shaping effect of theseexperiences seems to go beyond the level of memorability that is often stated as thegoal of experiences (e.g. Pine & Gilmore, 1999; Nijs & Peters, 2002). According toVan Gool and Van Wijngaarden (2005) transformation is the highest level ofexperience, a claim that also Pine and Gilmore (1999) make. The transformativeexperience causes a permanent personal change or enrichment in which emotions arevery important. The individual is highly involved personally, and he feels connectedto the experience.The fact that the transformative experience is said to be the ‘‘highest’’ level experiencedefinitely does not mean however that permanent change of the individual should bethe effect that providers should always strive for. In most cases experiences that have ahigher impact involve high levels of engagement and involvement by the individual,and great expenditures of what Hirschman and Holbrook call ““imaginal-emotionalenergy”” (1982, p. 97). Not everyone is always willing to get completely involved in anexperience with the resulting maximum investment of energy so there are cases inwhich a life-changing cathartic experience is not the optimal solution. Again this willdepend on the person and the context. Not every person in every context is preparedto have the same emotions and also the type of emotions that individuals feel arepersonally determined.HOW EMOTIONS COME ABOUTAlthough emotion is considered to be one of the most central aspects of humanexperience (Ackerman, 1990; Davidson & Cacioppo, 1992; Battarbee, 2004), there isnot yet a definition, theory, or approach of emotions that has been universallyaccepted. There are theories on the historical origination of emotions, on the socialand cultural function and origination of emotions and on the emotion process, howthe perception of a stimulus leads to emotion. For the purposes of this research thelatter theories are most relevant, since they deal with the way in which stimuli in theenvironment of the individual or internal stimuli like thoughts or memories aresupposed to lead to effects. Theories that deal with the emotion process generally can 84
  • 84. 2 | Research contextbe divided into two groups, cognitive and non-cognitive theories. The maindifference between these two theoretical stances is whether they consider thecognitive processes needed for the judgment and evaluation of stimuli as part ofthe emotion process, as the cognitive theories do, or not, as the non-cognitivetheories do. The fact is that non-cognitive theories see emotions as separate fromrational and cognitive functions of the mind and deny that cognitive functions likejudgment and evaluation are necessary for emotions (Johnson, 2009). However, someobservations lead the cognitive theorists to conclude that the way an individual judgesand evaluates stimuli is a determining factor in what kind of emotions he or she willexperience. For example, different individuals may experience different emotionswhen confronted with the exact same stimuli. Two friends can go to a concerttogether and one may enjoy himself while the other does not.Also, an individual may experience different emotions when confronted with the samestimulus at different times. For example, it is common that when an adult watches thefavourite TV show of when he or she was a child, the emotions that watching this TVshow will evoke may be very different. One can also simply think of the first ride in anew rollercoaster and the tenth time, these experiences will evoke different emotions,while the individual is confronted with the same stimuli. There also exist manyseemingly unrelated stimuli that may result in the same emotion. One can feel happyabout just about anything, one’’s birthday, good news at the doctor’’s, losing one’’s job,finally understanding how a piece of software works, etc., all depending on how oneevaluates the event. Based on these observations one has to conclude that how theindividual judges and evaluates the stimulus is a determining factor in what kind ofemotions will be experienced. Based on the individual’’s knowledge, past experience,context and worldview for example, he will become angry when someone insults him,or he will not. In the end, it is the judgment and evaluation of the situation that willdetermine the emotions that the individual experiences. Based on these judgments,emotions regulate behaviour in the sense that they attract the individual towardsbeneficial stimuli and direct him away from detrimental stimuli (Desmet, 1999). Whathappens is that a stimulus elicits an emotion when the individual appraises it asimportant for some personal concern. Figure 2.11 shows this emotion process. 85
  • 85. Emotion Individual (concerns, attitude, beliefs, Appraisal Stimulus etc.)Figure 2.11 –– The emotion process (based on Desmet and Hekkert model of product emotions (Desmet et. al.,2001))A concern is ““a more or less enduring disposition to prefer particular states of theworld. A concern is what gives a particular event its emotional meaning”” (Frijda,1988a, p. 351). The difference between positive and negative emotions can then beexplained in terms of a difference between appraisals that correspond or conflict withthe concern, that favour or harm the concern. Frijda (1988a) argues that we will try toapproach the stimuli that give rise to positive emotions and likewise we will try toavoid stimuli that collide with our concerns and thus evoke negative emotions. Anintriguing characteristic of aesthetic products is that individuals may also choose toconsume them even with foreknowledge that they will evoke negative emotions, as forexample in the case of sad movies (Suomi and Harlow, 1976). The search for negativeemotions is especially clear in the growing interest in touristic experiences associatedwith death, atrocity and disaster, described under the names of ““dark tourism”” (e.g.Lennon & Foley, 2000), ““thanatourism”” (Dann & Seaton, 2001), where thana refersto Thanatos, the Greek mythological figure that represented death, ““holidays in hell””(O’’Rourke, 1988) and ““milking the macabre”” (Dann, 1998).Since concerns are personal, also the appraisals based on the concerns will bepersonal, as will be the resulting emotions. It is thus not merely a matter of designinga ‘‘one size fits all’’- stimulus that will magically evoke the same intended emotion foreveryone. Mood management, or the use of stimuli to influence or evoke specificmoods, suffers from the same problem. Research shows that there are many variables 86
  • 86. 2 | Research contextone has no control over that play a strong moderating role in the influence ofstimuli on moods (e.g. Swinyard, 1993). At the same time research has for longfailed to address the complexity of the process in which individuals create meaning(Bengtsson, 2002). This clearly shows in texts in which authors recommend usingstories, themes, and theatre to entertain and engage customers in the experience(e.g. Pine & Gilmore, 1999; Schmitt, Rogers & Vrotsos, 2004; Jensen, 1999).Oftentimes these subjects are discussed in terms of scripting, staging, plots, climaxes,dramatic structures, narrative lines, props and actors, without taking into account thefact that experiences are recursive; that the audience, to stick with the theatricalmetaphor, actively interprets the event or story and attaches meaning to it. In realityexperiences are not passively received or absorbed resulting in predetermined hedoniceffects (Battarbee, 2004).HOW INDIVIDUALS GIVE MEANING TO EXPERIENCESThe way in which individuals interpret experiences does not consist of one activity.To explain this, Wright et al have described this process as the compositional threadof an experience, consisting of different activities (2004). The first is anticipation. Anindividual will not enter the experience unprejudiced. There are expectations,possibilities, needs, motivations and ways of making sense that are brought into theexperience. Connecting is a second activity used for sense making. Individuals willconnect every sensation they come into contact with to prior expectations, experienceand knowledge and generate some response. The interpretation of the experience, thethird activity, consists of placing the experience in a greater context to make sense ofit, to find structure, by connecting it to prior experience and knowledge. Within theactivities of anticipation, connection and interpretation the individual brings his wholelife with him. In fact, the meaning the object experienced has for the individual canbe influenced by many factors as diverse as for example their own prior experience,cultural meanings, meanings attached to the category the object belongs to, massmedia, tradition and history, contemporary events, politics, stories of other people,fashion and trends and so on. With all these factors to be taken into account, it wouldbe highly improbable that the construals of the individual would match those of thedesigner of an experience (Desmet, 1999; Huizing, 2007). 87
  • 87. Three other activities of sense making, reflecting, appropriating and recounting, gobeyond the immediate experience to consider it in the context of other experiences.These three activities are highly interrelated. For example, reflection can cause theappropriation of different elements of experiences, resulting in different accounts ofthe experience. Recounting the experience can also cause a change in reflection. Themain point according to Forlizzi (1997) is that individuals shape their life experiencesto form a narrative. In an experience narratives are juxtaposed, creating a tensionwhere values are maintained, tested, or transformed. In this sense the object that hasbeen staged by the organisation is a display of ‘‘raw materials’’ for a user to considerand interpret. The interaction with the raw materials may lead to new realizations,insights and change and form a new narrative that meshes with the series of extendedexperiences that shape one’’s life story (Forlizzi, 1997; Forlizzi & Ford, 2000; Stern,1995; Stern, Thompson & Arnould, 1998).Not always does the activity of individuals in experiences lead to life changingrealizations. The appropriation of new skills and knowledge has for example beendescribed as the effect of engagement (Laurel, 1993), optimal, or Flow, experiences(Csikszentmihalyi, 1990), and enjoyment (Brandtzæg, Følstad & Heim, 2004). Inappropriating an experience it becomes part of the individual. The degree to whichan experience changes the individual depends on the extent to which the individualidentifies with the experience. It may thus be that the skills and knowledge learned inthe experience are so defining for the sense of self of the individual that to him theexperience is life-changing.THE BIAS IN THE EFFECT-CENTRED APPROACH OF EXPERIENCEWith all the factors mentioned above that come into play in experiences and thatcannot be controlled or managed by the organisation (e.g. the weight of the subjectiveresponse, the individual’’s concerns, the way in which the individual gives meaning towhat happens), it should by now be clear that speaking of managing the effects of anexperience or giving people certain emotions or feelings is a too simplistic way ofexplaining what is actually a quite complex process. 88
  • 88. 2 | Research contextThe effect-centred approach is focused primarily on the role of organizations inmanaging and producing predetermined hedonic effects, hereby neglecting therole of the individual and the existence of other effects. What is needed is insightinto what kinds of effects can result from experiences in general, which means thata broader view will be taken than the sole view on hedonic effects. Byincorporating the individual’’s perspective in the effect-centred approach of theexperience economy discourse, the bias towards the organizational perspective can beoffset.2.4.3 BIAS AND GAPS IN THE ENCOUNTER-CENTRED APPROACH OF THEEXPERIENCE ECONOMYAs was explained in paragraph 2.3, the encounter-centred approach is focused on theencounter of individuals and their environment. There are various ways in whichauthors have tried to explore the nature of the encounter between an individual andthe environment around him or her. The descriptions of experiences that are given inthe encounter-centred literature can be grouped based on 1) whether the individual isgiven an active or passive role in the encounter, 2) whether in the encounter theindividual is changed by the environment or the environment is changed by theindividual, 3) whether the individual enters the environment or the environmententers the individual, 4) the amount of interaction between individuals andorganizations in the encounter, and 5) the values that the organization wants theindividuals to invest in the encounter.The first three topics in the encounter-centred approach are seen from a dominantlyorganizational perspective as I will show. It is the organization that allegedlydetermines whether the individual should be active or passive etc., and in whatmeasure. However, because of the increasing interaction between individuals andorganizations, the latter have to give up some of the control they traditionally had andallow more initiative for the individuals in some cases. The bias towards theorganizational perspective therefore has to be offset by taking into account theindividual’’s perspective in the experience economy discourse. From an organizationalperspective the main role of individuals in the encounter is that of paying money forexperiences, which causes a neglect of the other values that individuals invest. By 89
  • 89. incorporating the individual’’s perspective these other values become apparent and thegap in the understanding of what actually happens during the experience is filled.PASSIVITY VERSUS ACTIVITYThe first distinction that can be made in regards to the encounter-centred approachof experience refers to the activity dimension of experiences, ranging from a reactiveor passive nature to an active or participative nature. Concepts that are used fordescribing this activity dimension are presented in figure 2.12. Active, Participative, Interactive, Collaborative, Reactive, Passive, Provider Involvement, Investment of control values, Creative, Productive, Communicative, Expressive, Individual controlFigure 2.12 –– The activity dimensionActive or participative value implies a heightened interaction or collaborationbetween the individual and the environment, reactive or passive value on the otherhand implies a lesser amount of interaction (Holbrook, 1994). These qualificationsare not necessarily dichotomous but are points on a continuum that can be used toindicate the degree of interaction. Also according to Shedroff (1994), interactivity andpassivity are two points on a continuum of interactivity (see figure 2.13). The mostpassive experiences according are activities like reading a book or watching a movie.At the other end of the continuum are highly active experiences like having a debate,cooking a meal or building a house. As an individual shifts from the passive pole ofthe continuum in the direction of the active pole, he is no longer a passive observant 90
  • 90. 2 | Research contextbut an active participant and co-creator of value (Gummesson, 1998; Prahalad &Ramaswamy, 2000; Deighton & Grayson, 1995; Prahalad & Ramaswamy, 2004). Feedback clear and immediate visibility Control advanced navigation high audience control Creativity/ Co-Creativity creative tools & help distributed collaborative platforms Productivity productivity tools, ““intelligent and living information”” Communications chat, email, conferencing, sms, identity (profiles), community Adaptivity personalization capabilities, modifiable behavior, pseudo-intelligence Passive ActiveFigure 2.13 –– Continuums of interactivity (Shedroff, 1994)Also Pine and Gilmore (1999) speak of levels of participation that run from passive toactive. Passive guests are pure observers or listeners that do not directly affect orinfluence the performance. Active guests on the other hand are guests that actively 91
  • 91. partake in the performance. Between these two levels of guest participation thereexists a grey area. However, according to Pine and Gilmore also spectators are in away active guests, since ““simply by being there, they contribute to the visual and auralevent that others experience”” (Pine & Gilmore, 1999, p. 30).On the contrary, Deighton and Grayson (1995) include the aspect of invested valueby the individual in their description of collaboration, which shows that ‘‘simply bybeing there’’ a spectator does not become an active participant. With the shift frompassive to active, the individual invests multiple values like cognitive, behaviouraland/or financial values in the experience. The expenditure of values is closelyconnected to the involvement in the experience and the resulting impact of theexperience. Experiences that offer more possibilities for interaction and participationare expected to be more involving according to Deighton and Grayson (1995).One should not confuse the amount of involvement with a normative distinction of amore or less valuable experience. A highly participative experience is not always thebest solution. The correct amount of interactivity depends on many factors. The moreinteractive an experience is, the more control the individual has and the less controlthe provider has over the experience. One could think of the difference between aplay in a theatre that people come to watch versus improvisational theatre in whichwhat happens on stage is determined by the input of the audience. The amount ofcontrol and security the provider of the product wants to have will determine howmuch control will be given to the individuals. But anxiety can also exist on the side ofthe individuals themselves, which can be offset by offering assistance, help and adviceon how to co-create the experience.In so-called advanced creative/ productive experiences individuals have much controlover the activity. These experiences do not only allow individuals to use tools andproducts to make, do and create things themselves, like in the ‘‘normal’’ creativeexperience, but they also allow individuals to make new tools which they can then use(Shedroff, 1994). This degree of interaction can for example be seen in softwareapplications, where the user is allowed to create his own macros, templates, fonts,apps, and even help develop open source software. Communicative experiences allowindividuals to talk to each other, share opinions, stories, solutions, give advice, etc.Examples of these experiences are chat applications and low-moderated communities. 92
  • 92. 2 | Research contextHere the individuals decide what they do and say and the product is merely aplatform where the experience takes place.CHANGING THE ENVIRONMENT VERSUS BEING CHANGED BY THE ENVIRONMENTA second aspect of that is often discussed in literature within the encounter-centredapproach of experiences is whether the individual adapts the environment or ischanged by the environment. In an adaptive experience for instance, the environmentadapts itself to the behaviour of the individual (Shedroff, 1994). When a download iscomplete, an icon jumps up and down without explicit further actions of the user.When certain results have been attained, the computer game sends the player to ahigher level. This type of experience is now also being explored outside of the virtualworld, where companies use ambient technology to make certain features in a houseadapt themselves to the preferences of the residents.In ‘‘expressive interactions’’ (Forlizzi & Battarbee, 2004) on the other hand, theindividual is active and deliberately creates or changes something in the environment.Individuals change, modify, or personalize (objects in their) environment, investingeffort in creating a better fit between them and the environment. In ‘‘cognitiveinteractions’’ (Forlizzi & Battarbee, 2004) the individual has to adapt himself, has tochange. Usually in these situations the individual is confronted with a new experienceand has to learn a new skill or solution to understand the new situation. Forlizzi andBattarbee (2004) give the examples of encountering foreign toilets, taps and kitchenutensils when abroad. When an experience does not match the available knowledge,the individual has to learn to be able to make sense of the situation. Of course,individuals are not adapting their environment or adapting themselves to theirenvironment consciously all the time. In the context of user-product interactions,Forlizzi and Battarbee (2004) speak of ‘‘fluent’’ user-product interactions, ““the mostautomatic and well-learned ones... (which) do not compete for our attention”” (Forlizzi& Battarbee, 2004, p. 262). Examples of these interactions are using a pen, riding abicycle or making coffee. Usually these routine interactions are not remembered asmuch as highly intense and emotional interactions (Forlizzi & Battarbee, 2004).According to Forlizzi (1997) this is because the fluent interactions are part of a so-called rich experience. When everything happens as expected, or fluently, one will 93
  • 93. remember the experience of going horseback riding and the memories of the tasksone had to complete like successfully preparing the saddle, placing it on the horse,and leading the animal out of the stable, are less on the foreground. These activitiesor transactions become components of the larger experience (Forlizzi, 1997).TAKING IN OR STEPPING INTO THE ENVIRONMENTPine and Gilmore (1999) describe the type of relationship that the individual has withthe environment in terms of absorption and immersion. They define absorption as““occupying a person’’s attention by bringing the experience into the mind”” (Pine &Gilmore, 1999, p. 31), and immersion is defined as ““becoming physically (or virtually)a part of the experience itself”” (Pine & Gilmore, 1999, p. 31). By combining thenature of the environmental relationship and the dimension of participation describedabove, Pine and Gilmore (1999) describe four realms of experience.As can be seen in figure 2.14, educational and entertaining experiences are calledabsorbing experiences. In these experiences individuals absorb what happens in theirenvironment. They watch a movie, listen to music, watch a play, read books andlisten to lectures. In immersive experiences like escapist and esthetic (sic.) experiences,the individual enters an immersive environment. Instead of watching artists, lecturersor actors on a screen or on stage, in other words: from a distance, the individualenters the theme park, casino, virtual reality, museum, art gallery, nature scene, etc.and becomes part of the environment according to Pine and Gilmore (1999). Oneshould be aware of what Pine and Gilmore (1999) consider as absorption andimmersion, since in other literature these terms are used differently. For exampleUnger and Kernan (1983) claim that playful behaviour is reflected in the intrinsicenjoyment that comes from engaging in activities that are absorbing, to the point ofoffering an escape from the demands of the day-to-day world. Where Pine andGilmore (1999) call escapism immersive, Unger and Kernan clearly describe it interms of absorption. Also in other contexts absorbing experiences are described asexperiences in which the individual is absorbed into a different reality (Hirschman &Holbrook, 1982; Swanson, 1978), a state which Pine and Gilmore (1999) would callimmersion. 94
  • 94. 2 | Research context Absorption Entertainment Educational Passive Active participation participation Esthetic Escapist ImmersionFigure 2.14 –– The experience realms (Pine & Gilmore, 1999, p.30)The question remains whether an objective distinction can be made between with theabovementioned qualifications of absorptive versus immersive. One can howeverdescribe the environmental relationship of individuals and their environment as theindividual experiences this, resulting in different experiential modes of in- andoutsideness (Relph, 1976). In figure 2.15 the seven modes of in- and outsidenessdescribed by Relph (1976) are presented.As can be seen in figure 2.15, the experiential modes or levels of in- and outsidenessform a continuum from existential outsideness to existential insideness. Existentialoutsideness is described as a selfconscious and reflective uninvolvement in theenvironment. It is a deliberate stance of separating oneself from one’’s environment.Relph compares this with the condition of a poet or novelist who observes hisenvironment as though he were outside of it. ““There is an awareness of meaningwithheld and of the inability to participate”” (Relph, 1976, p.51). Objective outsideness 95
  • 95. Existential outsideness Objective outsideness Incidental outsideness Vicarious insideness Behavioural insideness Empathetic insideness Existential insidenessFigure 2.15 –– Levels of intensity with which insideness and outsideness are experienced (based on Relph, 1976,pp. 50-55)can be explained as the condition of a scientist. Again a self-conscious effort is madeto separate oneself from one’’s environment, but now with the intention of explainingone’’s environment in a scientific manner according to laws of logic and reason. Thenext experiential mode in the continuum is incidental outsideness, in which theseparation between individual and environment is unselfconscious and theenvironment merely functions as a background against which the individual doeswhat he or she intends to do. The environment in this sense is merely ‘‘there’’, it isirrelevant to what the individual does. This condition can be compared to thecondition of the business traveller, who can travel to places to have meetings, but forwhom the specific place in which he has these meetings is irrelevant. Vicariousinsideness can be experienced by for example people who read a book. Although theyare perhaps at home, they can still feel highly involved in the environment that has 96
  • 96. 2 | Research contextbeen depicted by the writer and have a sense of what it would be like to live in thedepicted environment. Of course the degree in which one can feel vicariouslyinside depends on the skills of the writer in this example as well as the ““imaginativeand empathetic inclinations”” (Relph, 1976, p.53) of the reader. Behaviouralinsideness, according to Relph, is probably the most commonly understoodexperience of insideness. It can be compared to the condition of an individual visitinga monument or museum, when he or she is ““deliberately attending to the appearanceof the place”” (Relph, 1976, p.53). By being surrounded by walls and other physicalboundaries, one experiences this behavioural insideness. For empathetic insidenessthis bodily presence is not enough, but one needs also to make a conscious effort toperceive one’’s surroundings. The individual in this case is not so much concernedwith the physical appearances of the environment he or she is in, as was the case withbehavioural insideness, but is more emotionally involved in the environment, ““muchas a person might experience a holy place as sacred without necessarily believing inthat particular religion”” (Relph, 1976, p.54). This mode of insideness requires training,to be able to see and understand the environment in itself. Finally, the lower extremeof the continuum depicted in figure 2,15 is existential insideness. This is described asthe experience of feeling at home and ““knowing implicitly that this place is where youbelong”” (Relph, 1976, p.55, italics in original). It is the most fundamental relation thatan individual can have with the environment according to Relph (1976), in which theenvironment is part of the individual and the individual is part of the environment.Relph’’s descriptions of the experiential modes of in- and outsideness show that it isdifficult to determine objectively whether an individual is absorbing things from theenvironment or immersed in the environment. The experience of in- and outsidenessdepends not only on the characteristics of the environment but also on thecharacteristics and intentions of the individual. Also the amount of conscious effortthat the various modes of experiential in- and outsideness demand differs. Forexample, as was described above, objective outsideness, or the condition of thescientist who wants to behave like a neutral observer of the environment, may requiremuch effort, while incidental outsideness requires much less effort; the environment isjust there, one does not need to direct one’’s attention to it. In the same way,empathetic insideness requires more deliberate effort of perception than behaviouralinsideness. These different states of in- and outsideness require different investmentsof effort by individuals. However, authors belonging to the encounter-centred 97
  • 97. approach to experience that see the individual as a passive receiver who merely takesin what the organisation provides in the environment, are more prone to stress theimportance of aspects like surprise, novelty and the unexpected. After all, the firsttime the individual experiences the staged offering, the experience is new, but if theactive role of this individual is neglected, it would seem that the second and third timewould consist of exactly the same experience. One could compare this to a theatreplay. The play has been scripted and one observes the same play time and again,allegedly resulting in boredom (Bills, 2003). However, the use of terms like sender andreceiver does not do justice to the complexity of the interactive process of sensemaking that takes place in experiences. Rather than being passive receivers ofwhatever the organisation is trying to transmit, individuals are active co-producers ofthe meanings that the environment has for them (Bengtsson, 2002; Desmet, 2000).INTERACTION BETWEEN INDIVIDUALS AND ORGANIZATIONSEspecially now that the number of communication channels and messages has grownexplosively, it becomes more and more obvious that not what is provided toindividuals, but the attention of individuals is the scarce resource (Davenport & Beck,2001; Lewis & Bridger, 2001; Simon, 1971; Christensen & Cheney, 2000). Instead ofgrabbing the individual’’s attention and informing him what he is supposed to thinkabout something, a process that in the context of marketing has been named ‘‘BruteForce Branding’’ (Yastrow, 2003), organizations should recognize that individuals areactive participants in an experience and construct their own relationships with theirenvironment.The interaction between individuals and products during consumption is one of theresearch areas that is getting much attention. People are not only said to useconsumption to actively produce meanings (Bengtsson, 2002; Hirschman & Holbrook,1982; Csikszentmihalyi & Rochberg-Halton, 1981) but this sense making capacity isalso claimed to be the primary function of consumption nowadays (Douglas &Isherwood, 1979; Ter Borg, 2003). 98
  • 98. 2 | Research contextThese developments make it more difficult to stick with the traditional ‘‘produceand sell’’-attitude. Individuals resist being treated as a sales-target anymore anddemand dialogues with organisations as valid interlocutors (Duijvestein, 2001;Adcox & Wittenstein, 2003; Vavra, 1995), or even ‘‘multilogues’’ with organisationsand other constituents (Berthon, Holbrook & Hulbert, 2003). This form ofcommunication requires a relationship between the parties, in order that they get toknow each other and build trust. Besides a dialogue, Individuals also demand a moreactive role in the experience itself, as co-producers (Ford & Heaton, 2000; LaSalle &Britton, 2003). In fact, partnerships between traditional consumers and producers arebecoming ever more common nowadays (Lewis & Bridger, 2001), which could resolvethe issue of not being able to design experience unilaterally (Battarbee, 2004).The active role in production by individuals is not entirely new. Self-service conceptshave been around for quite some time. However, there is now more recognition forthe fact that consumers do not just get involved because they have no choice or tosave time or money, but that they also can reap personal benefits from the activityand increase their enjoyment (Lewis & Bridger, 2001). The interaction betweenindividuals and organizations can take different forms. Sanders (2003) has identifiedfour levels of activity: doing, adapting, making and creating. ‘‘Doing’’ means thatindividuals just use products in a satisfying way, requiring minimal skill and effortfrom the individual. At this level there is not much interaction. However, whenindividuals ‘‘adapt’’ a product, the product is made fit for the context in which theindividual wishes to use it. This ‘‘adapting’’-level requires higher levels of skills andeffort. When the individual ‘‘makes’’ things, he follows directions or instructions andsometimes invests huge amounts of time, money, and other values to do something hereally cares about. The greatest investments are however made by individuals who‘‘create.’’ These individuals have no instructions but use the raw materials and the skillsat their disposal in a creative way to express themselves.Besides the fact that this active role often can be enjoyable to the individual, it canalso have many benefits for the organisation. People can find new purposes, uses,practices and applications for existing objects that may result in new businessopportunities for product development. With all the technology that people have attheir disposal, this development is having important implications, positive as well asnegative, for businesses (Zuboff & Maxmin, 2002; Von Hippel, 2005; Godin, 2000;1999). 99
  • 99. VALUES INVESTED IN THE EXPERIENCE BY THE INDIVIDUALThe fifth issue related to the encounter-centred approach is the type of values that theorganization wants the individual to invest in the encounter. Commodification refersto a situation in which practically everything is being treated as a possible commodityand market value replaces other kinds of values. By focusing on the market value ofexperiences and the financial value that the individual should invest, marketing andbusiness scholars are claimed to be responsible for the commodification of experience.Rifkin (2000) for example, even describes the experience economy as ““a world inwhich each person’’s own life becomes, in effect, a commercial market”” (p. 7). Space inthe physical environment is drastically changing because of this development (Rifkin,2000; Mommaas, 2000). ““Global travel and tourism, theme cities and parks,destination entertainment centres, wellness, fashion and cuisine, professional sportsand games, gambling, music, film, television, the virtual worlds of cyberspace andelectronically mediated entertainment of every kind are fast becoming the centre of anew hyper-capitalism that trades in access to cultural experiences”” (Rifkin, 2000, p. 7).But where space and material have always been more or less commodified accordingto Rifkin (2000), today many more aspects of life have come under the influence ofcommodification, such as time, signs and symbols, human practices, culture, humanrelationships, shopping and identity and even happiness and life itself (Rifkin, 2000;Galle, 2004; Richards, 2001; Dagevos, 2001; Falk & Campbell, 1997; Hackley, 2003).This has led Peñaloza (2000) to add another dimension to the term commodification,which she sees ““rather in the semiotic sense of marketers’’ and consumers’’ tendenciesto imbue and attribute meanings and status to market offerings and practices... Theterm ““commodification”” thus describes the ways cultural meanings and values areproduced through marketing activities”” (p. 83). In fact, this side of commodificationreceives much criticism. Norton (2003) uses Bourdieu’’s (1986) distinction betweeneconomic and cultural capital and claims that selling or putting a price on, andbuying or paying for cultural capital is not only meaningless but also wrong. However,this is exactly what is happening in business today. In the end, Pine and Gilmore(1999) argue, businesses are defined by that for which they collect revenue. ““You’’renot truly selling a particular economic offering unless you explicitly ask yourcustomers to pay for that exact offering”” (Pine & Gilmore, 1999, p. 62). According tothe authors the whole ““history of economic progress consists of charging a fee for 100
  • 100. 2 | Research contextwhat once was free”” (Pine & Gilmore, 1999, p. 67). Organizations are not active inthe experience economy unless they charge a fee for the experiences they offerthese authors claim. This sole focus on financial gain by companies is receivingever more criticism. Jeremy Rifkin (2000) fiercely criticizes this one-sidedness ofcommerce in his best-selling book The Age of Access, with the subtitle ‘‘The newculture of hypercapitalism, where all of life is a paid-for experience’’:““We are making the transition into what economists call an ‘‘experience economy’’ - a world in whicheach person’’s own life becomes, in effect, a commercial market. Selling access to cultural experiences istestimony to the single-minded determination of the commercial sphere to make all relations commercialones”” (Rifkin, 2000, p. 7).““The capitalist journey, …… is ending with the commodification of human time and duration. Theselling of culture in the form of paid-for human activity is quickly leading to a world where pecuniaryhuman relationships are substituting for traditional social relationships. (……) leaving humanity withonly commercial bonds to hold civilization together. This is the crisis of post-modernity. Cancivilization survive where only the commercial sphere is left as the primary mediator of human life?””(Rifkin, 2000, p. 9)““Cultural resources risk over-exploitation and depletion at the hands of commerce just as naturalresources did during the Industrial Age. Finding a sustainable way to preserve and enhance the richcultural diversity that is the lifeblood of civilization in a global network economy increasingly based onpaid access to commodified cultural experiences is one of the primary political tasks of the newcentury,”” (Rifkin, 2000, p. 12)While the influence of commerce on the world and lives of people is ever growing,also the resistance coming from these people whose lives are touched is becomingmore and more explicit (Klein, 2002). Some scholars are trying to transcend theopposition between values of commerce and financial gain, and other values in life(e.g. Henderson, 1996; Klamer, 1996; Barber, 1996; Quinn, 2000; Witteveen, 2001).It could seem as if this were a new development, but criticism of the one-sidedness ofthe focus on financial value of business is not new. In the book ‘‘Small is Beautiful –– Astudy of economics as if people mattered’’, Schumacher (1973) describes the risks ofthe singular focus on financial values. The focus on financial gain not only impliesrisks for the environment, the culture, social structures and the like, but also forbusiness itself. As the experience economy is growing, and more people will pay to 101
  • 101. participate, issues like rationalization, efficiency and economies of scale will becomemore important. This will inevitably lead to ““disenchantment””, as Ritzer (1999) callsit, causing the loss of ““something of great, if hard to define, value”” (Ritzer, 1999, p.96). Enchantment has more to do with the qualitative aspects of experiences than withthe quantity of experiences. ““An emphasis on producing and participating in a largenumber of experiences tends to diminish the magical quality of each of them. (……) Themass production of such things is virtually guaranteed to undermine their enchantedqualities”” (Ritzer, 1999, p. 98).What seems to have happened in the encounter-centred approach of the experiencediscourse is that at first the encounter was perceived in terms of utility provided byorganizations in exchange for money provided by customers (see figure 2.16(a)).When commoditization of goods and services urged organizations to think aboutother ways to add value to their offerings besides offering mere utility, let’’s call thisutility+, for some reason most scholars’’ reasoning consisted of charging higher pricesto the customer (see figure 2.16 (b)) rather than thinking what other values besidesmoney were or could be invested by customers in exchange (see figure 2.16 (c)).Taking into consideration the individual’’s perspective on the encounter could, and asI will discuss in chapter 5 will, open up an immense variety of potential values thatindividuals invest in the encounter, which have up to now been neglected in theexperience economy discourse.THE BIAS IN THE ENCOUNTER-CENTRED APPROACH OF EXPERIENCEThe individual’’s role does not just consist of investing money, but he or she alsoinvests other values in the experience as was explained above. The sole focus on themonetary investments of individuals even leads to commodification and possibledisenchantment. By assuming that the individual has a passive role in the experience,except for the role of paying customer, the view on the experience-encounter remainsvery restricted and many aspects of the encounter remain out of scope. The primaryfocus in the encounter-centred approach clearly is on the role of organizations indetermining which values should be invested during the experience-encounter, hereby 102
  • 102. 2 | Research context Utility Organization Individual a Money Utility + Organization Individual b + Money Utility + Organization Individual c Money +Figure 2.16 –– Change in value exchanges between organization and individualneglecting values that individuals invest in the encounter beyond financial values. Bytaking into consideration a broader view of what value is and the different values thatare invested during the experience, the organizational bias in the experience economydiscourse can be offset and an overview can be created of what happens during theencounter can be created.2.4.4 TOWARDS A SOUND AND INTEGRATIVE THEORETICAL FOUNDATION FOR THEEXPERIENCE ECONOMYTo find an answer to my first research question, ““What is the current state of affairsregarding theory on the experience economy?””, I started by depicting the broadercontext of the experience economy, called dematerialization. I continued by focusingon experiences, which based on the conceptualization of experience in paragraph 2.3,we have seen always consists of three elements: 1) something in the environment thatis experienced, 2) an individual enjoying or suffering the effects, and 3) the encounter 103
  • 103. between the individual and his or her environment. If one of these elements is missing,there can be no experience, since there always has to be something to be experienced,someone who experiences and an encounter between these two. A review of thecurrent experience economy discourse in business and marketing literature shows thatmost scholars focus on one of these three elements and therefore take a specificapproach of experience. I have named the approach that is focused on what in theenvironment is experienced the environment-centred approach. The secondapproach is focused on the effects for the individual and is therefore called the effect-centred approach and the third is called the encounter-centred approach since it isfocused on what happens during the encounter between individuals and theirenvironment.Each approach focuses mainly on just one of the three essential elements ofexperience, which means that it lacks attention for the other two elements. If oneconsciously makes the choice to focus on one element and therefore one approach ofexperience, this does not have to be a problem, but without a clear overview of whatexperience is one should highly doubt whether this choice for a specific approach isalways made consciously. Also within the specific approaches a bias can be noticed.Reviewing the experience economy discourse in current marketing and businessliterature, there seems to exist a bias towards the organizational perspective in each ofthe three approaches (see table 2.4). The origin of this bias may lie in the fact that therisk of commoditization of economic offerings is often presented as the main reasonfor the emergence of the experience economy. By finding ways to add value to theofferings, one can prevent this commoditization and maintain or even increase profitmargins. Or at least, this seems to be the assumption of many scholars. By focusing onthe role of the organization in each of the three approaches, scholars present ways toescape commoditization by adding value.In the environment-centred approach it is the organization that produces experiencesas economic offerings with the ‘‘right’’ objective features. In the effect-centredapproach it is the organization that manages and produces predetermined hedoniceffects. In the encounter-centred approach it is the organization that determineswhich values should be invested during the experience-encounter. In each of the threeapproaches the organization is seen as the dominant party in the experience. 104
  • 104. 2 | Research contextHowever, this bias towards the organizational perspective comes at the cost of abroader perspective on experiences. By focusing primarily on the role oforganizations in producing experiences as economic offerings with the ‘‘right’’objective features in the environment-centred approach a variety of otherconceptualizations of experience is neglected.In the same way, a variety of other effects besides hedonic effects and the role of theindividual in the coming about of these effects are neglected because of the primaryfocus on the role of organizations in managing and producing predetermined hedoniceffects in the effect-centred approach.Last but not least, by focusing primarily on the role of organizations in determiningwhich values should be invested during the experience-encounter in the encounter-centred approach, most attention is paid to financial value, hereby neglecting valuesthat individuals invest in the encounter beyond financial values. In every one of thethree approaches, the role of the individual is restricted to consuming whatever theorganization produces for them and paying for it.The lack of attention for the individual’’s perspective, reflected in otherconceptualizations, other effects and other values of experience than the ones that arefocused on now, is a gap in the experience economy discourse that I intend to resolvein this research. The research questions that I will answer in order to resolve this gapare: ““How can experiences be conceptualized from an individual’’s perspective?”” (tobe answered in chapter 3), ““Which kinds of effects can experiences have from anindividual’’s perspective?”” (to be answered in chapter 4) and ““Which types of values doindividuals invest in the experience?”” (to be answered in chapter 5). Together, theanswers to these questions will offset the current organizational bias in the experienceeconomy discourse. 105
  • 105. Role Approach Focus Neglecting Role individual organization Producing One type of experiences experience as economic concept: A variety of offerings experience as different Environment conceptuali- Consumer -centred with the economic zations of ‘‘right’’ offering with objective objective experience features features. Managing One type of The role of and experience- producing effect: the Effect- individual predeter- predeter- Consumer centred and the mined mined existence of hedonic hedonic effects effects. other effects Determining Values that which values One type of individuals should be invested invest in the Encounter- value: invested encounter Consumer centred nancial during the beyond experience- value. nancial encounter valuesTable 2.4 –– Overview of problems related to the three approaches of experience 106
  • 106. 2 | Research contextIn the following chapter I will provide theoretical insights in the differentconceptualizations of experience, to offset the bias in the experience economydiscourse in the context of the environment-centred approach. 107
  • 107. N C HAPT E R 3 Now experience is not a matter of having actually swum the Hellespont, or danced with the dervishes, or slept in an opium den. It is a matter of sensibility and intuition, of seeing and hearing the significant things, of paying attention at the right moments, of understanding and coordinating. Experience is not what happens to a man;it is what a man does with what happens to him. It is a gift for dealing with the accidents of existence, not the accidents themselves. A L D O U S H U X L E Y, TEXTS AND PRETEXTS, 108 1932, P.5
  • 108. Experienceconceptsin anintegrativetheory Chapters Chapter 6: 3, 4 & 5: Existential- Experience spectrum phenomenological with insights into: interviews Concepts (ch.3) Effects (ch.4) Values (ch.5) Chapter 2: Chapter 7:3 approaches in current Themes emergedliterature on experience: from interviews: Environment centred Engagement Effect centred Direction Encounter centred Chapter 8: Investment Sound and integrative theoretical foundation for experience economy from the individual’s perspective 109
  • 109. 3.1 INTRODUCTIONIn this chapter I will work towards solving the limitation of the environment-centredapproach in business and marketing literature: the fact that scholars conceptualizeexperiences as products and focus mainly on the objective features of these products.They focus on what the organization can and should do to produce a successfulexperience and seem especially interested in the internal processes that are used forthe production of a successful experience. By focusing primarily on what theorganization can and should do internally, the viewpoint of the individual is neglectedand experiences are being treated as commodities to be bought and sold. Theenvironment-centred approach thus consists of a biased discourse of business andmarketing scholars who focus primarily on the role of organizations in producingexperiences as economic offerings with the ‘‘right’’ objective features and neglect thevariety of other conceptualizations of experience. In this chapter I will therefore givean answer to the question: ““How can experiences be conceptualized from anindividual’’s perspective?””When one perspective is made dominant and other perspectives are neglected this canlead to problems. A focus or perspective highlights certain aspects of reality anddownplays others (Dewey, 1958). One should thus be careful with claims concerningthe truth of one’’s constructed meaning based on this perspective. The fact thatindividuals have an incomplete view of reality becomes even more problematic whenthey are ‘‘autistic’’ in the Dutch philosopher Arnold Cornelis’’ (1995) words. Theautistic individual knows that his area of expertise does not cover the whole reality,but pretends and claims that it does (Frankl, 1985; Cornelis, 1995). Lear (1998) callsthis attitude ‘‘knowingness’’: the individual decides upon a standard or definition andbecomes uncritical towards it. MacCannell and MacCannell (1982, p. 58) speak of the““illusion of immanence””, which refers to the individual’’s dogmatic belief in a meaningby promoting the individual subjectivity to a position of theoretical and/or practicalcentrality. Being able to deal with multiple viewpoints or perspectives enables one to 110
  • 110. 3 | Experience conceptshave a better and more complete view of reality. I will therefore discuss theconcept of experience from various different perspectives, using literature onexperience from diverse disciplines, ranging from psychology, to philosophy,anthropology, and so on.I will draw heavily on Martin Jay’’s (2005) extensive study on the evolvement ofinterest in the concept of experience in many different schools of thought over time.The discussion of multiple different conceptualizations of experience is meant to showthe reader that in fact the environment-centred approach of experiences in businessand marketing literature is biased towards just one conceptualization of experience:experience as an economic offering of which the organization can control andoptimize the objective features and which as I will argue should not be called anexperience. The distinctions between different conceptualizations will lead to aspectrum of experience-concepts that will be presented at the end of this chapter. Thisspectrum is meant to offer conceptual clarity in the often-confusing discourse onexperiences by showing that there are multiple perspectives on the subject. Whetherone is discussing, studying, organizing for, or in some other way dealing withexperiences, one should first reflect on these perspectives and understand theirimplications.The inward focus of organizations on the objective features of experiences as definedin the environment-centred approach is thus one of the possible perspectives onexperiences and hence provides limited knowledge about experiences. In the nextparagraph I will draw on literature from various disciplines with different perspectiveson experiences to find out which concepts of experiences can be distinguished, withthe aim of attaining a more complete view on experiences.3.2 DEFINITIONS OF EXPERIENCEAs was presented in paragraph 2.3, an overview of definitions and descriptions of theterm ‘‘experience’’ shows that there are three ways in which experience can beapproached. Based on these definitions and descriptions one could say that anindividual gains experience (in the sense of certain effects, like emotions of skills)resulting from his experience (in the sense of encounter, personal observation or 111
  • 111. contact) with an experience (in the sense of events, objects or activities in theenvironment). These are all aspects of an experience, and while one can try todistinguish between them, they cannot be separated for together they form what I willcall experiences.In ‘‘Songs of Experience’’, the intellectual historian Martin Jay (2005) does not give anaccount of what experiences are or might be, but of the reasons ““why so manythinkers in so many different traditions have felt compelled to do precisely that”” (p. 1),why they have felt compelled to explain the concept of experience to the world. Inthis book, Jay has made a comparative analysis of the various discourses related to theterm ‘‘experience’’ though time. He has not chosen one specific perspective on theterm experience but has explored many diverse contexts for understanding experience(like for example the epistemological, cultural, political, religious and aestheticcontexts) and combined insights from both European and American traditions andthinkers. This makes his work an essential source for explaining and understandingthe many variations that exist in the conceptualization of experience. Within Jay’’sanalysis of the extensive amount of literature on experiences certain developments canbe recognized, related to how the concept of experience has been dealt with in thepast. I will describe these developments and use them to make a distinction betweenvarious concepts of experiences.3.2.1 FROM SECONDARY TO PRIMARY EXPERIENCETo explore and discuss the different conceptual variations that exist for the term‘‘experience’’, one first has to find out where experience begins and what is the basisfor distinguishing what is considered as experience and what is not. The way in whichexperiences are described by business and marketing scholars in the environment-centred approach, seems to indicate a separation of the individual from the world.The focus in this approach is on the objective features of experiences as objects in theenvironment (see paragraph 2.4.1), hereby creating an imaginary, although highlyinfluential, boundary between the individual and those objects in the environment.The assumption that there exists a boundary, separation or chasm between theindividual and the world surrounding him or her in experiences causes much 112
  • 112. 3 | Experience conceptsconfusion about what can be called an experience and what not. By highlightingthat in an experience an individual is ‘‘in’’ the world and therefore necessarily incontact with the world he or she is in, several philosophy and psychology scholarshave tried to separate experience from non-experience.Reed (1996) for instance, distinguishes between primary and secondaryexperiences, the latter not being experiences according to him. Primary or ecologicalexperience is defined as ““the information (……) that all human beings acquire fromtheir environment by looking, listening, feeling, sniffing, and tasting - the information,in other words, that allows us to experience things for ourselves”” (Reed, 1996, pp. 1-2).Because of this experience, people can make sense of the world and their daily life.Secondary experience on the other hand, means that ““information is processed -selected, modified, packaged, and presented”” (Reed, 1996, p. 3), ““externalized”” inSveiby’’s terms (1997, pp. 81-82), providing at best second-hand or indirect knowledge(Reed, 1996). The meaning this secondary experience has, is determined by anddependent on one’’s primary experience; it derives from the relation of the processedinformation with its sources. In other words, one needs firsthand experience with asubject, to be able to make sense of a story about that subject according to Reed(1996). Day expresses this thought as follows: ““Information is pretty thin stuff, unlessmixed with experience”” (Day, 1921).The difference between primary and secondary experience can also be found in thetheories of John Dewey (1958), who claims that an important criterion of what maybe called an experience is contact of the individual with the ‘‘raw material’’. To clarifythe concept of raw material, he uses the metaphor of explorers of a territory, whoproduce a map of the territory and make it available to others. The explorers movethrough the uncharted terrain and record their movements. Reed (1996) would callthis primary experience. The map that the explorers draw based on their experienceof the terrain, consists of distilled information, not of the experience itself, and henceit would be called secondary experience by Reed (1996). As Dewey (1902) points out,the map only represents the information, not the experience. The experience, primaryexperience in Reed’’s (1996) terms, involves contact with the raw material from whichthe information, or secondary experience in Reed’’s (1996) terms, was distilled. In thecase of the explorers, experience is represented by direct sensory contact andinteraction with the area. The resulting map can never replace the experience of the 113
  • 113. journey because it cannot represent this sensory contact and interaction and themeaning the experience had for those making the journey. The map is merely areified expression of the experience.Wenger (1998, p. 58) defines reification as ““the process of giving form to ourexperience by producing objects that congeal this experience into ““thingness.””””.However, by focusing mainly on certain aspects of the ““thing”” other possiblemeanings are neglected (Jay, 2005; Dewey, 1958). Although an advantage ofsecondary information like a map, would seem that it can be easily communicated toothers who may acquire the information and then use it to have their own experiences,this loss of meaning may cause severe problems as has been discussed by manyauthors. A map, painting, book or other physical embodiment of information, can behanded over to someone else. Even non-material expressions can be presented toother people, for example by telling a story or singing a song. The actual experienceand its meaning to the individual, the so-called raw material that was discussed above,however, is ineffable, which makes it very difficult, if not impossible, to convey itverbally to others (James, 1902; Maslow, 1970; Saane, 1998). The meaning of theexperience, the raw material, cannot be transferred in any direct way, since it is apersonal construction. Telling someone about what one has experienced does nottransfer the experience itself to the other person and can cause the loss of meaning.This problem has led for instance the Dutch Resistance Museum (Verzetsmuseum) inAmsterdam, to take a different approach in communicating the meaning ofcollaboration and resistance in the Second World War. Telling visitors of the museumabout the choices people had to make during the war period would give themsecondary experience, or information. But this museum ““poses the same questions asthose faced by people living in The Netherlands during the Nazi occupation: Adapt?Collaborate? Strike? Report? Go into hiding? By placing the visitor in the positionof making choices, the complex issues of resistance and collaboration are broughthome, and at the same time brought up to date. Similar choices are faced daily bythose caught up in modern conflicts around the world. The material culture of theSecond World War can in this way be more effectively brought to life”” (Joke Bosch,2000 in (Richards, 2001, p. 66)). By placing the visitors in a similar position, it ishoped that the raw material, or what it may have meant to people who were alive inthat period and who were faced with this type of questions in their daily life, becomes 114
  • 114. 3 | Experience conceptsmore meaningful than if visitors would merely read facts about that period andinformation on the choices that other people in the past have made. Obviously thevisitors of the museum are not living in a war situation and do not have to sufferthe perhaps severe consequences of the choices they make, something peoplemaking choices during the war had to. In this sense one cannot say that they are incomplete contact with the raw material. I will explore this point deeper inparagraph 3.2.2 where I discuss vicarious experiences.The risks of communicating about experiences and their meaning have beenexplained by Maslow (1970) in the context of religion:““Much theology, much verbal religion through history and throughout the world, can be considered tothe more or less vain efforts to put into communicable words and formulae, and into symbolic ritualsand ceremonies, the original mystical experience of the original prophets. In a word, organized religioncan be thought of as an effort to communicate peak-experiences to non-peakers, to teach them, to applythem, etc.Often, to make it more difficult, this job falls into the hands of non-peakers…… The peak-experiencesand their experiential reality ordinarily are not transmittable to non-peakers, at least not by wordsalone, and certainly not by non-peakers. What happens to many people, especially the ignorant, theuneducated, the naïve, is that they simply concretize all of the symbols, all of the words, all of thestatues, all of the ceremonies…… In idolatry the essential original meaning gets so lost in concretizationsthat these finally become hostile to the original mystical experiences…… Most religions have wound updenying and being antagonistic to the very ground upon which they were originally based”” (Maslow,1970, pp. 24-25).Not only are experiences not transmittable from people who have had the experienceto others who have not had it, but often indeed communication involves two peoplewho have not had the experience, as could for example be the case when a youngguide in the abovementioned Dutch Resistance Museum tries to explain thedilemmas of people during the Second World War to visitors of the museum whohaven’’t experienced the war personally either. Other examples would be lessons inwhich a teacher educates students on topics like the French Revolution or the lunarterritory. The teacher will not have experienced the revolution, nor will he or she 115
  • 115. have walked on the moon, so he or she will have to rely on the information that existson these subjects.This does not mean that having an experience is impossible in all situations in whichsecondary experience is involved. Reading a book about cycling gives one primaryexperience with books, not with bikes, just as looking at a map can never substitute formaking the journey. The map, as all information, summarizes and distils previousindividual experiences. It can serve as a guide for future experience, preventinguseless mistakes and leading more efficiently to the desired goals. Reading a bookabout cycling will not be enough for learning how to ride a bike, but perhaps it canhelp in preparing the individual for the experience.Information is thus not final. Its value is not intrinsic but it is a means to get from themore casual, tentative experiences of the past, to more controlled and orderlyexperiences in the future. The information should enable the individual to have betterexperiences in the future (Dewey, 1971), what Bacon (in Jay, 2005, p.31) referred to asexperientia literata, informed or learned experiences.Problems arise however when the process of experiencing is neglected in favour of theoutcome; when the journey is neglected and maps become ““fetishized as timelessentities indifferent to their effect on their beholders”” (Jay, 2005, p. 165). Secondaryexperience is valuable if it helps the individual in having primary experiences, but thebasis always has to be this primary experience in reality.The main aspects of secondary and primary experiences that have been discussed inthis paragraph are summarized in table 3.1. 116
  • 116. 3 | Experience conceptsSecondary experience Primary experienceObjective, focus on features of Subjective, focus on perception ofobjects in the environment subject of experienceInformation, reification Contact with the raw materialDogmas and textual authority, Sense data, knowledge byknowledge is conceptual, acquaintanceborrowedTransferable IneffableValue is in the object itself Value is in eye of beholderFiltered and selected experience Direct and immediate experienceTable 3.1 –– Characteristics of the shift from secondary experiences to primary experiencesAlthough very different, primary and secondary experiences both have advantagesand disadvantages and one cannot universally claim that one is always to be preferredover the other, although Reed (1996) and Dewey (1958) do exactly this by stating thatprimary experience is preferable over secondary experience. Over time, theacknowledgement and acceptance of secondary and primary experience as sources ofknowledge have varied. Until the 17th century, primary experience was frowned upon,because of the rationalist tradition that held in esteem certainties and intellect, not the““messiness and uncertainty of everyday life”” and ““the imperfections of mere opinion””(Jay, 2005, p. 13) that were related to primary experience. Knowledge that wasderived from primary experience, as it was conceptualized in those days, was seen asperspectivist and fallible knowledge, opposed to the objective and certain knowledgeand the eternal and universal truths of science (Jay, 2005). Experience was mainlyviewed as a merely subjective, partial reflection of the world, in which the individualsees the world not as it is, but as a source of possible gratifications for his specificpersonal needs and motives. Given the personal nature of the needs and motives, theperception of reality is highly subjective within this line of reasoning, and would notlead to truth. Therefore some argued that experiences should be dealt with as objects.In this sense the experience of one person should be equal to that of another person(Jay, 2005). By using instruments like microscopes and telescopes for perceiving reality 117
  • 117. to improve on or augment a person’’s own sensory perception, they hoped that (a partof) the uncertainty of sense-based perceptions could be diminished, and that the use ofinstruments would lead to more certain and more equal data (Jay, 2005). In the 18thcentury the focus shifted and sense-data that are derived from primary experiencebecame seen as the real foundation of knowledge (Jay, 2005). Knowledge that was notbased on primary experience, in other words secondary experience, was by someconsidered to be ““borrowed”” (Jay, 2005, p. 92), and not leading to true knowledge.The true foundation of knowledge was not to be found in dogmas or textual authorityanymore, but in the sense data derived from primary experience (Jay, 2005, p. 43).Even today, there is still discussion on what should be preferred: primary experienceor secondary experience. Especially developments of technology and mass mediacause a large increase in the amount of secondary experience that individuals areconfronted with. On the one hand there are the critics of this development, who saythat an excessive focus on secondary experience would lead to a ‘‘Society of theSpectacle’’, in which, because of the loss of primary and direct experience, reality is amere accumulation of images and representations (Debord, 1994) and individuals aremere spectators of pseudo-events (Jay, 2005; Boorstin, 1964). The selection andfiltering of what happens in primary experience for creating secondary experience canof course pose a risk if one takes the secondary experience as an accuraterepresentation of reality. The fact that secondary experience is a selected and filteredand therefore by definition a partial representation of reality, means that thisrepresentation can give a distorted view of reality. Information and images can beframed in many different ways that may influence the interpretation of what theymean. If one bases one’’s beliefs, views, and opinions on a distorted representation ofreality, this may cause severe problems, ranging from irrational decision-making (e.g.Tversky and Kahneman’’s (1981) ‘‘Asian disease problem’’) to severe consequences fordemocratic principles in society (Dewey, 2004; Boorstin, 1964).On the other hand there are those who claim that secondary experience can beextremely useful in situations in which primary experience is risky or even impossible.The example given above of the Dutch Resistance Museum, is an example of avicarious experience. Vicarious experience is sometimes the best available option thatexists for approximating the primary experience. Primary experience would 118
  • 118. 3 | Experience conceptsnecessitate going back in time to the war itself, which is impossible. Puresecondary experience, for example in the form of facts and figures on the war inhistory books would lie at the other extreme of the primary-secondary scale. Thesolution that the museum had chosen lies somewhere in between these twoextremes. It is not primary experience of the war, since this is impossible, butbeing placed in the shoes of someone who has to make choices in a dilemma, it islikely that the vicarious experience helps visitors more in understanding what livingwith those dilemmas will have meant for people in that time than facts and figures ina book (Pugh & Bergin, 2005). Current technological developments make vicariousexperiences more feasible and more pervasive, which is why I will pay specificattention to this type of experience in the following paragraph.3.2.2 VICARIOUS EXPERIENCEWhat distinguishes vicarious experiences is that a) the individual is not directly incontact with the raw material of the experience (is not having a primary experience)and b) although there is no direct contact of the individual with the raw material andthe experience can therefore be considered to be secondary, something is done tocreate the illusion of contact with the raw material in a less filtered and framed waythan there would be in a pure secondary experience.Based on the degree to which the primary experience is filtered and framed and basedon the proximity of the actual raw material to the individual having the vicariousexperience, I want to argue that vicarious experiences can be seen as an in-betweentype of experience, between primary and secondary experiences (see figure 3.1). 119
  • 119. Secondary experience Degree of Vicarious experience filtering/ framing Primary experience Proximity of raw material to individualFigure 3.1 –– Vicarious experiences are an in-between type of experiences, between primary and secondaryexperiences.As can be seen in figure 3.1 I consider secondary experience and primary experienceas two extremes on the axes of framing and filtering and proximity of raw material tothe individual. Secondary experience according to Reed (1996, p.93) has beenmodified, selected, or produced by another person, like a map, text and images inbooks, a movie, etc. I have therefore placed it at the top of the framing and filteringaxis. The fact that the information has been framed and filtered by someone else,means that there is an ““externally imposed limit to one’’s scrutiny of it”” (Reed, 1996,p.94). Primary experience consists of direct contact with one’’s surroundings by thesenses; there is no other person who selects or filters what the individual will be able tosee, hear, smell, taste or feel. The degree of filtering and framing is minimal. Primaryexperience also has a very high proximity of the raw material to the individual whohas the experience. He or she is the one who experiences the raw material firsthandby using the senses and the experience has or could have direct consequences for him-or herself (Simonsohn, Karlsson, Loewenstein & Ariely, 2008). Secondary experiencemeans that there is a large distance between the raw material and the individual andhis senses and there are no direct consequences for the individual. For instance, in 120
  • 120. 3 | Experience conceptsprinciple everything can be written down, but for the text to have meaning for theindividual, he or she has to make sense of it based on primary experience. Inthemselves the data have no intrinsic meaning. Symbols on a map for examplemay mean anything, this is why there usually is a legend accompanying the map,although the individual also has to know how to read a legend in this case.Vicarious experience, I argue, lies somewhere between these two extremes. It isoften not as filtered and framed as secondary experience and there is no direct contactof the individual and his or her senses with the raw material.VICARIOUS EXPERIENCE: WHEN PRIMARY EXPERIENCE IS IMPOSSIBLE ORUNDESIRABLE.One can imagine that the use of vicarious experience does not merely exist insituations where primary experience is impossible because the raw material takesplace in the past like in the example of the Dutch Resistance Museum described inthe former paragraph. It may be that one wants to have someone experience rawmaterial that hypothetically takes place in the future, or raw material that takes placein a place or space where physical presence is impossible (e.g. the sun or inside abacteria). With the rise of e-commerce and online shopping it also becomes more andmore useful to offer opportunities to vicariously experience products because of thelack of opportunities for the physical evaluation of products beforehand. Also in thesecases it may be useful to apply technologies that help the individual with having avicarious experience because it makes the process more comfortable and easier (Smith,2006).Martin Jay (in Goodman, 2003) explains in an interview that by creating a distancebetween the individual and the raw material, vicarious experiences are often soughtfor because of their safety and lack of risk. The distance between the individual andthe raw material makes experiences virtual, which according to Jay go together withthe commodification of experiences: ““The ‘‘theme-parkization’’ of history, thecommodification of tourist experiences and such thrill-seeking activities as bungeejumping and extreme sports are all examples of the way that we now purchaseexperiences. It should be noted, however, that for the most part these experiences arevicarious. Obviously the experience of jumping off a bridge with a bungee is not the 121
  • 121. same as jumping without one. But this is even truer of the intense experience ofhorror when we watch a movie or the thrill we get from an amusement park ride. Weexperience these emotions second hand, knowing that we are safe even as we scream.In the horror movie, for example, we self-consciously watch a virtual horror and canhide our eyes while we sit in our seats rather than run away. The virtualization andthe commodification of experience seem to go together”” (p. 117). In fact, also Boorstin(1964), in his critique on commercialized experiences, makes the connection betweencommodification and virtualization. He claims that democratic revolutions havecaused people to expect access to art and literature. But to make art and literatureaccessible to all, ““they had to be made intelligible (and inoffensive) to all…… garbled,emended, watered down, and taken out of context –– all in order to make them blandand digestible to uncultivated palates”” (Boorstin, 1964, pp. 119-120). It shouldn’’t betoo difficult for people to understand, it shouldn’’t be risky or offensive, in other words,it should be safe and comfortable for everyone. Because of the distance between theindividual and the raw material (see figure 3.2) these vicarious experiences are saferthan primary experiences. One does not have to be in the middle of a war but onecan read about it, watch it or play it out on the computer, safely in the comfort ofone’’s own home. One does not have to struggle through complex literature, as isshown in the following fictional passage of a conversation between two young ladies:““First young lady: ““Have you seen Omnibook? It takes five or six books and boilsthem down. That way you can read them all in one evening.”” Second young lady: ““Iwouldn’’t like it. Seems to me it would just spoil the movie for you.”””” (Boorstin, 1964,p. 118).Lee (2002) describes a different situation in which primary experience is notimpossible, but in which it is considered as unacceptable and politically as well asculturally undesirable. He explains how vicarious experiences can be used in sexualeducation in Hong Kong. There still lies a taboo on this topic and many teacherstherefore refer students to images of birth control devices and the humanreproductive system in books. This secondary experience may lead to theaccumulation of factual knowledge but the intention of sexual education is of coursenot just to prepare students for an exam where they can reproduce book-knowledge,but rather to influence the actions of students outside of the classroom and ““allow 122
  • 122. 3 | Experience conceptsthem to make sensible and informed decisions in their future sexual lives”” (Lee,2002, p. 189).There are many examples of how vicarious experience can be used to substitutefor primary and secondary experience, for example by using models or virtualsimulations, showing movies, telling stories, showing other people’’s behaviour etc.,to influence things as diverse as individuals’’ attitude towards the police (Rosenbaum,Schuck, Costello, Hawkins & Ring, 2005), behavioural reactions to pain (Turkat &Guise, 1983), teachers’’ practice (Conle, Li & Tan, 2002), cardiac surgery patients’’recovery (Parent & Fontin, 2000) and individuals’’ self-efficacy in general (Bandura,1986).As was discussed above, vicarious experiences may take many different forms and tomy knowledge there exists no clear overview of these different forms. I will thereforeconstruct a model that clarifies which types of vicarious experiences can bedistinguished on what grounds.MEDIATED VICARIOUS EXPERIENCESIf one takes into account that the individual’’s senses and various perceptual processesmediate all experience, one can distinguish between first-order and second-ordermediated experiences (ISPR, 2000). First-order mediated experience then actuallyrefers to primary experience as discussed above, since it is the natural way ofexperiencing reality, by perceiving the environment via the senses. Second-ordermediated experience according to the International Society for Presence Research,refers to experience which has not only been mediated by the human senses but alsoby human-made technology. Human-made technology can refer to electronic media(e.g. television, HDTV, radio, film, telephone, computers, virtual reality, simulationrides, videogames, videoconferencing systems, text- and graphic-based instantmessaging systems), traditional print media (e.g. newspapers, books, magazines),traditional arts (e.g. paintings and sculptures) or technologies that correct or enhancehuman perception (e.g. visual aids and hearing-aids) (ISPR, 2000; Lombard &Campanella Bracken, 2003). 123
  • 123. Primary experience: the individual is in direct contact Raw Individual with the raw material. material Mediated vicarious experience: contact of the individual with the raw Raw Individual M material is mediated by a material technological or non- technological device or a person.Figure 3.2 –– Primary experience versus mediated vicarious experienceI see mediated vicarious experiences as a broader concept than just thetechnologically mediated experience. A vicarious experience may be technologicallymediated, in the sense that there is a technological device that separates the individualfrom the raw material, or non-technologically mediated. Examples of atechnologically mediated vicarious experience could be watching webcam-images ofwildlife or watching an event via the Internet. In these mediated vicarious experiences,the individual has sensory contact with the technological device separating him fromthe raw material. In the examples mentioned the device can be a computer screen, amobile phone screen or a TV screen, depending on where the individual has access tothe Internet. A non-technologically mediated vicarious experience would be hearing afriend tell a story about his holidays, reading a book about Harry Potter or seeing aplay in the theatre. In these examples there is no technological device that separatesthe individual from the raw material, but there none the less is distance between theindividual and the raw material. The person telling the story, the author who haswritten the story and the director of the play filter the information. 124
  • 124. 3 | Experience conceptsObviously, there are more variations within this category of mediated vicariousexperiences, besides whether they are technologically or non-technologicallymediated. A well-known difference between reading a book and watching amovie, is for example that a book allows for more imagination on the part of thereader (Boorstin, 1964). In movies one can see and hear many things that one hasto imagine when reading a book, for example what the main characters look like,their tone of voice, the environment in which he story unfolds itself, etc. This aspectbecomes especially clear when one watches a movie that has been based on a bookthat one has read. On the other hand, because the creator of the movie has filled inthese aspects and because watching a movie is a very visual and auditory experience,more senses are directly involved than in reading a book (Boorstin, 1964). However, itshould be clear that reading about or watching something on screen, is a verydifferent experience than being physically present in the events themselves, althoughefforts are made to decrease this difference (see the discussion of presence under‘‘simulated and immersive vicarious experiences’’).OBSERVATIONAL VICARIOUS EXPERIENCESWhen one observes someone else having a primary experience, I call this anobservational vicarious experience. A primary experience has or could haveconsequences for the individual himself, while observing someone else having aprimary experience, means that that individual suffers or enjoys the consequences, notthe observing individual (Simonsohn, Karlsson, Loewenstein & Ariely, 2008).According to Bandura (1986) this is exactly what observational learning or modellingconsists of. An individual pays attention to someone else doing something and is ableto remember it and later on reproduce the action. Attention, retention andreproduction are three of the four conditions for modelling or observational learning,the fourth is motivation; in other words, the individual needs a reason for repeatingthe action or for not repeating it. Whether the individual will be able to rememberand reproduce the actions (the second and third criteria) depends on his abilities.Whether the individual will pay attention to the model and feel motivated to act onthe observational learning in his real life (the first and fourth criteria), depends partlyon the context. If one is in a very busy environment with many distractions forexample, it will be more difficult to pay attention to the model. If there is very little 125
  • 125. opportunity in the life of the individual to be involved in the actions of the model,there will be little reproduction. However, attention and motivation are also said todepend for a large part on the relationship with the model. Individuals will forexample pay more attention to models who are seen as prestigious, attractive,dramatic or similar to oneself (Bandura, 1986). Direct observational vicarious experience: the individual is in direct Individual Someone Raw contact with another else material individual who has a primary experience. Mediated observational vicarious experience: contact of the individual M Raw Individual Someone with another individual material else having a primary experience is mediated by a technological or non- technological device.Figure 3.3 –– Observational vicarious experiencesThe individual does not necessarily have to be in the physical presence of the modelto have a vicarious experience and to feel related to the model. The model may alsobe a persona in the media. In fact, much research has been done in the relationshipsthat individuals may develop with these personas, so-called ‘‘para-social relationships’’.Horton and Wohl (1956) define this type of relationship as the ““seeming face-to-facerelationship between spectator and performer”” (Horton & Wohl, 1956). Para-socialinteraction ““occurs when individuals interact with a mediated representation of aperson as if the person were actually present. That is, individuals behave as if they arehaving an interaction with a source when in fact they are only relating to the medium””(Nass & Sundar, 1994, p. 1). The difference between a face-to-face relationship with a‘‘real’’ person and a para-social relationship is that there is a lack of reciprocity. ““The 126
  • 126. 3 | Experience conceptsinteraction, characteristically, is one-sided, nondialectical, controlled by theperformer and not susceptible of mutual development”” (Horton & Wohl, 1956, p.215). The individual, who can be seen as a member of the audience of theperformer, does not necessarily have to repeat or avoid the actions of theperformer later on, but he can choose to respond to the actions of the performerin many ways (e.g. by talking back to the television or by becoming emotional).Responses like for example empathy and other vicarious emotions will be discussed inthe next paragraph. According to Bandura (1986) it would be impossible for anindividual to learn everything firsthand via primary experience and continuousprocesses of trial and error. Also, there are certain skills, like for example language-skills, which would be near impossible to learn if not via this type of observationalvicarious experience. This makes this type of vicarious experience not only veryfrequent but also very important in an individual’’s life.SIMULATED AND IMMERSIVE VICARIOUS EXPERIENCESWhere in primary experiences the individual is in direct contact with the raw material,in a simulated vicarious experience he or she is in contact, directly or via a medium,with a simulation or account of the raw material. A part of the raw material is selectedby an external party and made into a physical or virtual simulation or an account forindividuals to experience. In the example of the Dutch Resistance Museum, theindividual was not brought into contact with the whole raw material of the SecondWorld War experience, but one part of this had been selected out by the organizers,namely: how to deal with dilemmas. By playing this scenario out, visitors wereintended to understand the raw material. In simulated vicarious experiences theindividual is actively taking part in the experience and the interaction is reciprocal.The difference can be clarified by juxtaposing two examples of vicarious experiences.When watching a movie, an individual cannot change the course of events in themovie, while when playing a computer game he can. Especially in virtual reality theindividual can explore the world on his own and even create new parts of the virtualworld if he desires to do so. This is something that can’’t be done in a movie. Themovie is what it is and in this sense it is just as one-sided, nondialectical, controlled bythe creator and not susceptible of mutual development as the para-social relationships 127
  • 127. that were described above. Watching a movie can be what I call an immersiveexperience if in some way the individual gets the impression that he is ‘‘in’’ the movie.By using techniques as ‘‘first person perspective’’ and various 3D IMAX technologiesetc, the distance between the individual and what happens in the movie is intended todecrease and an illusion of non-mediation is evoked. The script of the movie is fixedand the interaction is therefore non-reciprocal, but the individual is not just watchinga movie from a distance but he is immersed ‘‘in’’ the movie via his senses. Experiencesin which there is an illusion of non-mediation are also called experiences of (tele-)presence (Reeves Timmins & Lombard, 2005). Presence means that the individualfails to completely and accurately acknowledge the role of the mediating technologyin the experience and because of this he may for example feel like he is in a differentlocation or environment than he actually is, or that the objects, events or persons he isinteracting with via the medium are physically present (ISPR, 2000). Experiences thatevoke an illusion of non-mediation or presence I will call immersive vicariousexperiences. Simulated vicarious experience: the individual is Raw Simulation in direct and reciprocal ma material Individual / account contact with a simulation or of raw account of the raw material. material Immersive vicarious experience: contact between Raw the individual and the Simulation ma material simulation or account is non- Individual / account reciprocal and the individual of raw has an illusion of non- material mediation.Figure 3.4 –– Simulated and immersive vicarious experience 128
  • 128. 3 | Experience conceptsQuite recently also the reversed phenomenon of presence, inverse presence, hasgained attention (Reeves Tommins & Lombard, 2005). Possibly because of theincreasing number of mediated experiences that individuals nowadays areconfronted with, ““(i)n a variety of contexts, people are experiencing not an illusionthat a mediated experience is in fact nonmediated, but the illusion that anonmediated ““real”” experience is mediated”” (Reeves Tommins & Lombard, 2005).There are for instance occasions in which individuals perceive a natural scene as apicture or nature documentary, or individuals who experience a traumatic event as ifit were a movie that can be switched off.OVERVIEW OF VICARIOUS EXPERIENCESExperiences that do not evoke an illusion of non-mediation, do not enable theindividual to participate or engage himself with a model, simulation or account of theraw material, do not consist of contact, mediated or not, with some other individualwho has or has had primary experience and do not consist of direct contact of theindividual himself with the raw material, are what I consider to be pure secondaryexperiences. If all that has been discussed in this paragraph is combined, an overviewof the different sorts of vicarious experiences can be created in the form of a tree-diagram (see figure 3.5). By asking the questions presented in this diagram, one cansimply follow the branches of the tree, resulting in an answer to the question ofwhether one is dealing with a primary, secondary or vicarious experience and whenthe answer is neither primary or secondary experience, what type of vicariousexperience one is dealing with.The whole discussion on what type of vicarious experience one is dealing with, mayseem like a useless semantic discussion but given the confusion that exists about whatis experience, what it is not and how one can get an overview of different types ofexperiences (see chapter 2), this discussion is all but useless. If everything is called anexperience, different terms are being used for the same phenomenon and the sameterms for different phenomena, then the confusion in the experience discourse willnever be resolved. Also, technological developments enable more evasive vicariousexperiences, which makes it more important to have a clear understanding of what avicarious experience is and which sorts of vicarious experiences can be distinguished. 129
  • 129. Is the individual in direct contact with the raw material? Yes: PRIMARY EXPERIENCE No. Is the individual in contact with someone else in direct contact with the raw material? Yes. Is the person physically present? No. Is there contact with a model/ simulation/account of the raw material? Yes: DIRECT No: MEDIATED OBSERVATIONAL OBSERVATIONAL VICARIOUS VICARIOUS EXPERIENCE EXPERIENCE Yes: is the interaction No: SECONDARY reciprocal? EXPERIENCE Yes: SIMULATED No: does the VICARIOUS individual feel as if EXPERIENCE the experience is non-mediated? Yes: IMMERSIVE No: SECONDARY VICARIOUS EXPERIENCE EXPERIENCEFigure 3.5 –– Tree diagram of varieties of vicarious experienceAs was argued in the discussion of the research problem in chapter 2, ambiguity withrespect to terminology makes the literature on the experience economy difficult toorganize and understand. The still dominant position of secondary experience in 130
  • 130. 15 14 Description of vicarious experience example (and source) Flow through tree diagram Type of of vicarious experiences in vicarious Figure 3.5 experience Dilemmas in WWII (Joke Bosch, 2000, in (Richards, 2001): Placing No direct contact with RM14, Simulated SE = someone else visitors in the position of people living in The Netherlands during the no contact with SE15, contact vicarious RM = raw material Nazi occupation by asking them the same questions and having them with MSA16, reciprocity experience make similar choices. Sexual education in HongKong (Lee, 2002): Presenting models of the No direct contact with RM, Simulated male and female reproductive organs to students to simulate the no contact with SE, contact vicarious 16 MSA = model, simulation or account workings of contraceptive devices. with MSA, reciprocity experience Individuals’’ attitude towards the police (Rosenbaum et al, 2005): 1. Person with the encounter: 1. Direct Interviewing people on their attitude towards the police based on their no direct contact with RM, observational primary (direct) and vicarious (indirect) experience with the police. contact with SE, physical vicarious contact experience 2. Media or friends/family: 2. Secondary131 no direct contact with RM, experience no contact with SE, no MSA Behavioural reactions to pain (Turkat & Guise, 1983): Showing a film No direct contact with RM, Mediated in which a person either terminated the exposure to a pain stimulus contact with SE, no physical observational and the task at hand after 10 seconds or after 70 seconds. contact vicarious experience Teachers’’ practice (Conle et al, 2002): Having teacher candidates read No direct contact with RM, Mediated literary autobiographies in order to gather data for their own personal contact with SE, no physical observational narrative of teaching and learning. contact vicarious experience Table 3.2 –– Examples of vicarious experiences and the determination of the type of experience Cardiac surgery patients’’ recovery (Parent & Fontin, 2000): Offering No direct contact with RM, Direct dyadic support by former patients exemplifying the active lives they are contact with SE, physical observational leading to help patients who had to undergo cardiac surgery. contact vicarious experience 3 | Experience concepts
  • 131. literature on experiences and the growing attention for mediated and vicariousexperiences compels scholars to clarify what type of experience they are studying. Bysubsuming the abovementioned varieties of vicarious experience under primary orsecondary experience, the effects of vicarious experiences go unrecognized. By usingwords to name the different conceptualizations and varieties of vicarious experience,the understanding and communication of what exactly one is talking about can beimproved.As can be seen in the tree diagram in figure 3.5 and as has been mentioned aboveseveral times: part of the answers that are given when going through the tree diagramare objective in the sense that there is contact with the raw material or there is not,there is someone else present or there is not, etc. However, at the lower end of thediagram, the question is not a matter of there being non-mediation or not, but ofwhether the individual feels as if the experience is non-mediated or not. This questionhas less to do with sensory perception than with the subjective impression that theindividual has of what he is experiencing. The studies referred to above containedinformation on the objective as well as the subjective aspects of the tree diagram,which I have used to fill in table 3.2, as an example of how the tree diagram can helpone to determine whether one is dealing with a secondary, a vicarious or a primaryexperience and if the experience is vicarious what kind of vicarious experience one isdealing with.Although literature on experience in general seems to take the stance that experiencealways begins by sensory data, and that these sensory data are the basis of allexperience, current developments in technology enable the creation of environmentsin which individuals are led to believe that they are having primary sensoryexperiences when they actually are not. Still, in a society with such an abundance ofsecondary experience, vicarious experience may at least be a first step in the directionof more primary experience. When primary experience is impossible or undesirable,vicarious experience, in which the individual more or less feels like he is having aprimary experience, may be a valuable alternative. For this reason I will alsoincorporate the vicarious subjective responses that may be caused by vicariousexperiences in the next paragraph. 132
  • 132. 3 | Experience concepts3.2.3 FROM PRIMARY EXPERIENCE TO SUBJECTIVE RESPONSEAround the mid-18th century a shift took place in the way in which authors spoke ofexperience (Jay, 2005). Until that moment the discourse on experience was focused onsubjective sense data as was discussed in paragraph 3.2.1. From the mid-18th centurythe concept of experience tended more towards a focus on the even more subjectivepersonal responses of individuals. Not the objects themselves, nor the sensoryperception of individuals was deemed essential, but within this conceptualization ofexperience the focus is on how the individual responds based on his perception.Objects are admired not for what they are in themselves, neither for what they look,sound, smell, feel or taste like, but for what they can do to or for people and thefeelings and emotions they evoke (Jay, 2005, p. 140).The subjective response that in the context of experiences has received by far themost attention in literature is the hedonic response, or the experience of pleasure. Forthis type of response, personal sensual gratification or lack thereof is all that matters(Jay, 2005). When experiences are sought for because of the pleasure that can bederived from them or the pain that can be avoided because of them, we can speak ofhedonic experiences. Much attention has been paid in literature to this type ofexperiences. Hedonic experiences are described as intense, positive, intrinsicallyenjoyable experiences, giving fun, excitement, pleasure, enjoyment and happiness topeople (Stelmaszewska, Fields & Blandford, 2004). I will discuss hedonic effects indepth in chapter 4.The main characteristics of differences between primary experiences and emotionalexperiences that I have discussed above are summarized in table 3.3.Although according to literature on experiences raw material is the occasion for thesubjective responses of individuals, in the last paragraph I discussed several types ofvicarious experiences in which the individual has no direct contact with the rawmaterial, but that can evoke a vicarious subjective response by the individualnonetheless. 133
  • 133. Primary experience Emotional experienceSubjective, focus on perception of Subjective, focus on response ofsubject of experience subject of experienceContact with the raw material Raw material is occasion for responseSense data, knowledge by Pleasurable feelings, emotionsacquaintanceTable 3.3 –– Characteristics of the shift from primary experiences to emotional experiencesVICARIOUS SUBJECTIVE RESPONSESTo explain what vicarious subjective responses entail and how one differs from theother, I first want to discuss a phenomenon called cognitive perspective taking orcognitive role taking. When an individual observes another individual having aprimary experience, directly or via a medium, he can imagine the mental states of theother individual without being himself emotionally involved. In the process he canrecognize the other’’s emotions or the meanings of the emotional displays cognitivelywithout being personally affected. One can for example imagine that someone else isangry when treated unjustly without feeling angry oneself. In fact, Thomas’’ (2010)description of ‘‘mental imagery’’, or ““quasi-perceptual experience”” does not containany reference to personal affection: ““it resembles perceptual experience, but occurs inthe absence of the appropriate external stimuli””.If the observation or imagination of another person’’s affective state does elicit anemotional response, so the individual himself is also in an affective state (Eisenberg &Fabes, 1990; de Vignemont & Singer, 2006), the question is whether there is at least aminimal degree of differentiation between the individual and the observed other andwhether the individual knows that the other person is the source of his own affectivestate (Eisenberg & Fabes, 1990; de Vignemont & Singer, 2006). If the answer to thisquestion is no, then we speak of ‘‘resonance’’. 134
  • 134. 3 | Experience conceptsResonance is a subjective response in which individuals metaphorically relate twodifferent sets of narrative experiences to one another in an unconscious way(Conle, 1996; Conle, Li & Tan, 2002). Usually resonance is used to denote theprocess in which an echo or re-sounding process is produced in reaction andresponse to an event. Conle (1996; Conle, Li & Tan, 2002) uses this term todenote an echoing or resounding process in the context of vicarious experiences.The vicarious experience, like for example the simulation or account or otherexpression of the raw material, functions as a metaphor and the individual relates thisto his own previous primary or vicarious experiences so he may experience certainemotions without consciously being aware that the observation or imagination of theother person’’s emotional display has caused his emotions.If the observation or imagination of emotional displays of someone else leads anindividual to feel emotions too and if he knows that the other person’’s emotions arethe cause of his own emotions, then the question becomes whether or not he sharesthe other’’s emotions. If this is the case, then we can speak of an empathic response ofthe individual. Although there is still much discussion about what empathy is exactly(Wispé, 1986), there seems to be agreement on some characteristics of empathy inliterature.An empathic response consists of the sharing of feelings when exposed to them so theindividual’’s affective state is isomorphic to the other person’’s affective state(Mehrabian & Epstein, 1972; de Vignemont & Singer, 2006; Eisenberg & Fabes,1990). When an individual observes or imagines someone else being sad and thissaddens him, we speak of empathy. There is a correspondence of positive or negativetone, or a matching of affect (Gruen & Mendelsohn, 1986). When feeling sympatheticon the other hand, this isomorphism of feelings does not necessarily have to take place.The individual may feel sorry, concerned or worried when observing or imaginingsomeone else being sad but it doesn’’t mean that he himself feels the same way.Sympathy also differs from empathy in the sense that in sympathy a desire or urge forthe other person to feel better and a heightened awareness of another’’s suffering assomething to be alleviated is involved (Eisenberg & Fabes, 1990; Gruen &Mendelsohn, 1986; Wispé, 1986). The individual suffers with the observed person andfeels compassion and an urge to help, to take whatever mitigating actions arenecessary to alleviate the suffering. 135
  • 135. CRITIQUE ON EMOTIONAL EXPERIENCESThere has been much critique concerning the focus on emotional experiences. Thesearch for immediate sensuous pleasure is said to produce only isolated andmeaningless moments of joy, indifference to all other values, boredom, and ahedonistic self-indulgence (Jay, 2005, pp. 152-153). Art critics in the sixties forexample criticized the fact that works of art were used as mere occasions for thebeholder’’s temporal reaction to them and that much contemporary art increasinglyresembled mere entertainment (Jay, 2005). In the search for pleasure, people seem tobehave as ““collectors”” of pleasurable moments (Jay, 2005, p. 313), an attitudepopularly expressed as ““been there, done that, bought the T-shirt””.These emotional experiences are in a way very passive. Individuals submergethemselves in a stream of sensations and rush from one experience to the next (Jay,2005). The rate at which people are said to search for one pleasurable experienceafter the other does not leave time for reflection and the discovery of retrospectivemeaning, which has caused some thinkers to denounce the crisis of experience andothers to argue ““that the domination of a less healthy version of experience isprecisely what defines the contemporary era”” (Jay, 2005, p. 407). In fact,contemporary society has been described as an Experience Society (‘‘Erlebnis-Gesellschaft’’, (Schulze, 2000)) in which the environment is manipulated with the aimof deriving pleasure from it, a society characterized by ‘‘experience hunger’’ (Cauter,1995) and the commoditization of feelings (Debord, 1994). The critique on this typeof experiences and the alternative that is often presented by the critics can be betterunderstood when the difference between Erlebnissen en Erfahrungen is explained, asI will do in the following paragraph.3.2.4 FROM ERLEBNISSEN TO ERFAHRUNGENIn the developments described above the focus was either on the inherent qualities ofthe object or on the subjective perception or response of the subject. In the 20thcentury however, many thinkers from different disciplines decided that the gapbetween the subject and the object had to be bridged (Jay, 2005, p. 263). Thedifference between the ‘‘gapped’’ types of experience and the bridged types, can be 136
  • 136. 3 | Experience conceptsexplained by referring to the distinction that has been made between the Germanequivalents of experience: Erlebnis and Erfahrung. Also other, especiallyNorthern-European, languages contain a distinction between different translationsof the term experience, for example Finnish (elämys and kokemus), Norwegian(opplevelser and erfaring), Swedish (upplevelse and erfarenhet), Danish (oplevelseand erfaring) and Dutch (belevenis and ervaring). Given the extensive attentionthat German scholars have paid to the meaning of the German terms Erlebnis andErfahrung and the distinctions between these, I will use the German terms to makethe distinction between different meanings of the term experience. Erlebnis andErfahrung have come to imply two very different notions of experience (Jay, 2005, p.11). The verb ““erleben”” means ““to be still alive when something happens”” (Gadamer,2004, p. 53) and thus shows the immediacy of the moment of experience. Erlebnisgenerally connotes a more immediate, pre-reflective, and personal variant ofexperience (Jay, 2005), with a focus on instantaneity and the totality of sensorialexperience (Mommaas, 2000). Erlebnis can be described as a ““shock-like breakdown””or ““non-narrativizable interruption of normal life with intensity as its goal””(Goodman, 2003, p. 117). The immediacy of Erlebnis is shown in this focus onintensity but also in its focus on immediate gratification of needs (Mommaas, 2000).In fact, the modern selling of experiences, and their commodification, has primarily todo with Erlebnissen, leading to the immediate gratification of individuals who ‘‘buy’’experiences (Goodman, 2003; Schulze, 2000).When individuals exert mental activities on an Erlebnis, for example by distancingoneself from it, contemplating or reflecting on it and making sense of it, it can becomean Erfahrung (Jay, 2005; Mommaas, 2000). The individual is not just taking in orabsorbing stimuli from his environment and neither does he merely have feelings ofpleasure. There is some kind of cognitive processing involved, in the context of a long-term learning process, and the focus is not on the immediate gratification of needs(Mommaas, 2000). Where Erlebnis stands for a ““shock-like breakdown”” or ““non-narrativizable interruption of normal life with intensity as its goal””, Erfahrungconnotes a creation or restoration of the coherence or narrative of an individual’’s life(Goodman, 2003), in the sense that a series of events in the past, present andhypothetical future are meaningfully connected in a temporal way and with a point ofview (Georgakopoulou, 2004). The difference between Erlebnis, like primary and 137
  • 137. emotional experience, and Erfahrung can be explained in terms of mental agency anda temporal dimension.MENTAL AGENCYCompared to Erlebnissen, in Erfahrungen the individual is given a more active role.Experiences are not considered to be mere sensations or subjective responses, but asprocesses in which the individual interacts with his environment and in which helearns. ““Experience in virtually all of its guises involves at least a potential learningprocess produced by an encounter with something new, an obstacle or a challengethat moves the subject beyond where it began”” (Jay, 2005, p. 403). In fact, theovercoming of difficult situations like obstacles and challenges is even claimed to bepresent in the etymological root of the word experience itself: ““Insofar as ““to try””(expereri) contains the same root as periculum, or ““danger,”” there is also a covertassociation between experience and peril, which suggests that it comes from havingsurvived risks and learned something from the encounter (ex meaning a coming forthfrom) (……) it can also connote a worldliness that has left innocence behind by facingand surmounting the dangers and challenges that life may present”” (Jay, 2005, p. 10).It is this unpredictable learning process that makes experience so valuable (Jay, 2005,p. 25).The way in which individuals can learn based on experiences can be explained byusing the Experiential Learning Cycle (Kolb, 1984). The learning cycle begins with aso-called ‘‘Concrete Experience’’. This can be said to be the object in the experience,which can consist of anything in the individual’’s environment. It could be a physicalobject, but it could just as well be an event, an idea, a person, or even himself. First‘‘Reflective Observation’’ is needed. The individual has to be aware of the ConcreteExperience and understand what it is, what has happened. 138
  • 138. 3 | Experience concepts Concrete experience Testing in new Observation & situations reection Forming abstract conceptsFigure 3.6 –– Experiential Learning Cycle (Kolb, 1984)The relation between the Concrete Experience and the individual must beunderstood. The individual should understand what its consequences are for him andhow it fits into his life or reality. The mere presence of a burn mark on one’’s finger(the Concrete Experience) will in itself not cause any learning. First of all it has to benoticed by the individual and it has to be related to the action that has caused it tohappen, for example his holding his finger to close to the flame of a candle.The third step in the cycle is ‘‘Abstract Conceptualization’’. When the individual iscapable of understanding what the object means, what the consequences of this objectare for him, he can try to form an abstract rule or concept, relating causes and effects,or the object and the consequences this has had for him, for future reference. In theabovementioned example a plausible abstract rule or concept would be ‘‘stay awayfrom fire.’’ Step four then consists of ‘‘Active Experimentation’’, in which the individualtakes his new-found abstract concept or rule back to reality to experiment with it,which might cause yet another ‘‘Concrete Experience’’, taking the individual throughthe cycle again. Several other models of learning processes contain similar stages, likefor example the Experiential Learning Model (Luckner & Nadler, 1997) and theReflective Teacher Model (Ashcroft & Foreman-Peck, 1994). The cycle is a constantflow of doing and undergoing, of relating causes and effects (Winter, 1997). This 139
  • 139. continuing flow in the interaction between an individual and his environment isessentially what distinguishes a meaningful experience from mere happenings. In thiscontext, Dewey speaks of the ““category of continuity, or the experiential continuum””-principle (1997, p. 33). ““(E)very experience enacted and undergone modifies the onewho acts and undergoes, while this modification affects, whether we wish it or not, thequality of subsequent experiences. For it is a somewhat different person who enters inthem…… the principle of continuity of experience means that every experience bothtakes up something from those which have gone before and modifies in some way thequality of those which come after”” (Dewey, 1997, p. 35). The experience becomespart of the individual’’s narrative.There are different ways in which individuals can deal with events and act upon them.All events are appraised by individuals as was shown in figure 3.6 and eithercorrespond to or conflict with their personal concerns, which gives rise to emotions(Frijda, 1988b). Based on this appraisal the individual acts. When the event complieswith his concerns, there are no obstacles and only positive emotions are evoked.Vasilyuk (1991) calls this a ‘‘hedonic experience’’, which according to him is not a realexperience since there is no obstacle or problem to solve. When the event conflictswith the individual’’s concerns on the other hand, his expectations are violated and hehas to interpret the source of violation to determine the course of action. Based on thetype of obstacle or problem, the individual can choose between three types of action:object-oriented practical action, mental reflection, or the generation of meaning(Vasilyuk, 1991).Object-oriented practical action is recommended for problems that can be solved byphysically reconstructing the situation. For example when confronted with a wildanimal, there is not much one can do to solve the problem besides fleeing and herebycausing a physical change in the situation by distancing oneself from the animal. Thistype of experience is similar to what Vasilyuk calls a ‘‘Realistic Experience.’’ Mentalreflection is the second option the individual has in problematic situations. This typeof action is recommended for situations in which the problem can be solved byadapting oneself to the new situation through reflection. When one has been invitedfor two parties on the same day, there is nothing one can physically do to solve theproblem, one can only reflect on the choice to figure out what party to go to. This 140
  • 140. 3 | Experience conceptschoice depends on the person’’s value system, which has led Vasilyuk to call thistype of experience a ‘‘Value Experience.’’ The third type of action, the generationof meaning, is recommended for problematic situations that cannot be solved byusing one of the other two types of action. When a loved one dies for example, theproblem can’’t be solved by physically reconstructing the situation or by reflectingupon it. These situations are called ‘‘Critical Situations’’, situations that are first andforemost characterised by impossibility (Vasilyuk, 1991). According to Vasilyuk (1991)the only thing a person that encounters such a situation can do, is to attach personalmeaning to it. It is not a matter of discovering meaning but it is an active and creativeprocess of generating and giving meaning to the event. This experience is called a‘‘Value Experience.’’Whether events are dealt with depends on their relation to the personal concerns ofthe individual. When this relation is conflictive the nature of the problematic situationdetermines the choice of action. Table 3.4 shows the different options.Relation of event to Course of action Resulting experiencepersonal concernsCompliance No course of action Hedonic Experience (no experience)Conflict Object-oriented practical Realistic Experience action Mental reflection Value Experience Construction of meaning Creative ExperienceTable 3.4 –– Ways of dealing with situations and the experiences that result from theseDepending on the situation at hand, the individual chooses a type of action that heexpects will restore the balanced relationship with his environment (Jay, 2005, p. 359).In this sense experience is a transactional concept (Jay, 2005, p. 291). The relationshipwill of course not be identical to the relationship one had with the environment priorto the experience. Because of the conflicts resolved, the obstacles overcome, the thingslearned and the meaning created, there now exists a new balance. Dewey (1958) callsthis process ‘‘an’’ experience. He says that in practice, people are solving problems allday long but this does not necessarily mean that they are having ‘‘an’’ experience. The 141
  • 141. activity can be so automatic and mechanical that there is no conscious perception ofwhat the individual is doing and what the relation is between what he does, why hedoes it and what the consequences of his actions might be. He is experiencing but nothaving ‘‘an’’ experience in Dewey’’s (1958) terms.People experience all day long because through their senses they interact with theirenvironment. Even by just breathing we are interacting with our environment. Butoften the experience does not reach completion because people are distracted,interrupted, or not paying attention. For experience to become ‘‘an’’ experience,Dewey (1958) concludes, it has to reach the phase of closure, or consummation. Inthis way the experience becomes a whole that enters our memory and shapes ourview of the world. Everyday experiences, the occurrences and sensations weexperience daily, that are disjointed and incomplete, are too ill-defined to offer afoundation for the future (Jay, 2005).The completeness of an experience gives it a uniqueness; it demarcates the experiencefrom the everyday stream of experience and becomes memorable. One can forexample distinguish between ordinary experiences and extraordinary experiences(Abrahams, 1986). By contrast with ordinary experiences, extraordinary experiencesalways entail a sense of newness, triggered by unusual events, and they arecharacterized by high levels of emotional intensity.Urry (2002) distinguishes different ways in which a division between the ordinary andthe extraordinary can be established and sustained. First there is a unique object.There is only one real Eiffeltower, there is only one real Anne Frank house. Secondthere are particular signs. There are signs that indicate typical Englishness, Italianness,Americanness, Dutchness of a place which make it uniquely English, Italian, etc.Thirdly there are unfamiliar aspects of what had previously been thought of asfamiliar. Being able to explore unfamiliar aspects of things we know, like the humanbody or electricity, or weather, or the forest, can make for a unique experience. Afourth way consists of ordinary aspects of social life being undertaken by people inunusual contexts. To experience how for example public transport, education orhealth care works in a foreign country can make for a unique experience. Fifth iscarrying out familiar tasks or activities within an unusual visual environment. 142
  • 142. 3 | Experience conceptsAlthough perhaps ‘‘visual’’ can be extended to other senses, one can think ofunique situations in which you sleep in a hotel made of ice, or you eat in a hot airballoon. Sixth and last are particular signs that indicate that a certain other objectis indeed extraordinary, even though it doesn’’t seem to be so. A brick may seemlike a normal brick until one reads the accompanying sign indicating that it is infact a brick from the Berlin wall.The uniqueness also causes the experience to have a single quality which differentiatesit from other experiences. Dewey (1958, p. 37) comments, "An experience has a unitythat gives it its name, that meal, that storm, that rupture of friendship. The existenceof this unity is constituted by a single quality that pervades the entire experience inspite of the variation of its constituent parts””. ““(S)omething becomes an ““experience””not only insofar as it is experienced, but insofar as its being experienced makes aspecial impression that gives it lasting importance”” (Gadamer, 2004, p. 53).We are having ‘‘an’’ experience when we perceive the relation between what we doand what we undergo, the causes and consequences. It is this relation that givesmeaning to the experience and causes growth and development for the individual.When the individual carries out some activity, causing him to undergo theconsequences of his actions, he learns only to the degree that he can relate his actions,his doing, to the consequences he undergoes. The impact that the experience hasdepends on the individual’’s perception of relationships or continuities to which itleads up (Dewey, 1997; Pugh & Bergin, 2005). The relationships between causes andconsequences are transformed into relationships between means and ends, which theindividual can use to invent, explore, create and experiment with, similar to the phaseof abstract conceptualization in the Experiential Learning Cycle of Kolb (1984).When experiences are described in terms of learning and the mental connectionbetween causes and consequences, time becomes an important factor. Not only doesthe individual not enter the experience as a blank slate, but also the lessons that helearns, the meaning that he constructs, the abstract generalizations he makes, can allbe used for future reference. 143
  • 143. TEMPORAL DIMENSIONThe discrete encounters with the environment over time leave some sort ofpermanent residue for the individual (Jay, 2005, p. 61; p. 330). In this sense, anexperience has a temporal dimension as accumulated learning, and memory has acentral position in experience. The experiences from the past and the knowledge theindividual already has play a part in experiences in the present and since no one hasexperienced the exact same things and accumulated the exact same knowledge asanother person in the world, experiences are highly personal. For example anindividual who has learned everything about car mechanics and who has muchexperience in repairing engines, will have a different experience when his car breaksdown than a layman who does not know anything of cars. In the same way an artcritic sees an artwork differently, a professional musician listens to music in a differentway, a head chef tastes food differently, a doctor perceives the human body in adifferent way, etc. These people have accumulated experiences and knowledge, whichenables them to make more connections between causes and consequences, andhence to learn more and make more sense of the experience.The accumulation of experience and knowledge of these people causes them to beable to connect what they know, which in their case is more than what their lay fellowmen know, to their experience. In terms of meaning, they are able to have moremeaningful experiences, caused by their ability to perceive the ‘‘raw material.’’ Rawmaterial, as Dewey (1958) argues, is not just the difference between information andexperience as I discussed in paragraph 3.2.1 but, for example when experiencing apiece of art, can also consist of a realization in thought of ““what the people into whoselives it entered had in common, as creators and as those who were satisfied with it,with people in our own homes and on our own streets,”” (Dewey, 1958, p. 4). Thework of art should not be understood as the mere expression of the personalexperience of the artist himself ““which is then able to provoke a comparable livedexperience in the reader, beholder, or listener. Instead, it should be understood totranscend the artist’’s emotional state and be able to arouse a feeling of concern in therecipient, following what he or she feels about the work itself”” (Jay, 2005, p. 356).Whatever the reader, beholder or listener already knows or has experienced in thepast, plays a part in his interpretation of the experience and the meaning it has forhim. 144
  • 144. 3 | Experience conceptsOf course the present experience will also have effect on the experiences theindividual will have in the future. Whatever he takes away from this experience,he will bring with him into the experiences to come. Erfahrung is then ““a moretemporally elongated notion of experience based on a learning process, anintegration of discrete moments of experience over time into a narrative whole oran adventure”” (Jay, 2005, p. 11). Graphically, the temporal difference between anErlebnis and an Erfahrung can be expressed as in figure 3.7. An Erlebnis is immediate and isolated. An Erfahrung is an ongoing process of doing and undergoing, action and reflection, causes and consequences.Figure 3.7 –– The temporal difference between an Erlebnis and an ErfahrungThe main characteristics of this shift from Erlebnis to Erfahrung are summarized intable 3.5.Erlebnis ErfahrungSeparation of subject and object, and Focus on active participation offocus on passive subject. subject with objectPre-reflective Mental agency involved by individualIsolated Cumulative, ongoing, moves individual beyond where he began.Immediate Mediated by connection of doing and undergoing, action and reflection, causes and consequencesTable 3.5 –– Characteristics of the shift from Erlebnis to Erfahrung 145
  • 145. 3.2.5 FROM MEANINGFUL EXPERIENCES TO INTEGRATIVE EXPERIENCESFor Gadamer (2004), genuine experiences are hermeneutical, recursive and self-reflective, in that they are constitutive of knowledge, but also function to provide theindividual with ““a new horizon within which something can become an experiencefor him”” (p. 348). The meaning an experience has for an individual not only dependson his prior knowledge and experience but also on this ‘‘new horizon’’, and the impactthe experience has on the life of the individual (James, 1902; Saane, 1998). One canimagine that an increase in knowledge and experience in one area of life like playingchess or what apples taste best in a specific recipe has a smaller impact on the overalllife of an individual than knowledge and experience to confront life’’s questions ingeneral. The life context on which the experience has an impact, for which theexperience has meaning, can vary from a very small part of life to life as a whole. Ofcourse, this evaluation is personal. For someone playing chess for a living the meaningof an experience that causes him to improve his chess skills is greater than forsomeone who does not care much about chess. However, in both cases there is an‘‘expansion of meaning’’ caused by the experience, the individual gains knowledge andunderstanding.The perceived relationships between causes and consequences, the lessons learned,the abstract conceptualizations, all become part of the individual and can now beused in every context they are needed. One can for example learn the laws ofmechanics as isolated facts which have a certain use for the individual and thus acertain cash value. However, the cash value increases and the laws become muchmore meaningful when they ‘‘boil over’’, when they are no longer mere isolatedtheoretical concepts that the individual has grasped and that he can use within onecontext, but principles he sees operating everyday in his own life and that cause achange in his perspective on reality as a whole (Jay, 2005, p. 282; Pugh & Bergin,2005). He can now see things that, although they existed before, were not perceivedby him. These experiences expand one’’s horizons and contribute meaning and valueto future experience, ““thus leaving us and the world itself irrevocably changed””(Jackson, 1998, p. 33). This irrevocable change is also referred to in the description ofepiphanic experiences. There are four types of epiphanies, namely major, cumulative,minor or illuminative, and relived. ““In the major epiphany, an experience shatters aperson’’s live, and makes it never the same again…… The cumulative epiphany occurs 146
  • 146. 3 | Experience conceptsas the result of a series of events that have built up in the person’’s life…… In theminor or illuminative epiphany, underlying tensions and problems in a situationor relationship are revealed…… In the relived epiphany, a person relives, or goesthrough again, a major turning point moment in his or her life”” (Denzin, 1989, p.17). What connects these types of epiphanies according to Denzin (1989) is thatthey are ““interactional moments that leave marks on people’’s lives…… personalcharacter is manifested and made apparent…… the person is never quite the same””(p.15). By living or reliving such an experience, one gains a new perspective on (someaspect of one’’s) life.In essence, to have an experience is to come to see something in a meaningful newway in which things come together and fit together more than they did before andthat opens up the possibility for more meaningful experiences. Baltes et al (1995) callthese experiences ““wisdom facilitative experiences”” because the individual developspersonally and gains wisdom in life experiences that involve dealing with difficult anduncertain situations in life, which enables him to confront other difficult situations inlife. This result of experiences has been termed continuity, meaning that anappropriate experience modifies the person who has the experience, and the qualityof subsequent experiences (Dewey, 1997). Continuity is desirable when it fostersgrowth and development, arouses curiosity and anticipation, and carries a person to anew and more coherent perspective of reality to be used in the future (Saane, 1998;James, 1902). Gadamer (2004, p. 350) argues that experiences are interminable: ““theperfection that we call ““being experienced””, does not consist in the fact that someonealready knows everything and knows better than anyone else. Rather, the experiencedperson proves to be, on the contrary, someone who is radically undogmatic; who,because of the many experiences he has had and the knowledge he has drawn fromthem, is particularly well equipped to have new experiences and to learn from them””.Experience result in an ““openness to experience that is made possible by experienceitself”” (Gadamer, 2004, p. 350).The individual participates in an ““event”” of meaning, in which the individual himselfand his horizon, or Lebenswelt, and all it contains, are involved, and in which thishorizon or interpretive framework is widened when it is confronted with otherhorizons (Gadamer, 2004). ““We could say that a meaningful action is an action theimportance of which goes ““beyond”” its relevance to its initial situation. (……) An important 147
  • 147. action, we could say, develops meanings that can be actualized or fulfilled insituations other than the one in which this action occurred. To say the same thing indifferent words, the meaning of an important event exceeds, overcomes, transcends,the social conditions of its production and may be reenacted in new social contexts,””(Ricoeur, 1991, pp. 154-155), which has an influence on the individual’’s personalpractical knowledge (Conle, Li & Tan, 2002).Personal practical knowledge comes about through actions and experiences in thepast and is usually not readily available to the individual’’s conscious awarenessanymore because it has become amalgamated with his other experiences. It tacitlyguides the individual’’s choices and actions and each new experience becomes part ofthe pool of personal practical knowledge available for further action.The experience becomes part of the individual in such an intricate and profound waythat it is even involuntarily recollected; even when in a completely different context,the lessons learned from the experience will be recalled and used (Jay, 2005, pp. 339-340). Graphically the difference between what I will call ‘‘meaningful experiences’’,experiences with an isolated impact on one specific context, and ‘‘integrativeexperiences’’, experiences that show a ‘‘boiling over’’ effect and cause a change in theindividual’’s interpretive framework or life-horizon, is expressed in figure 3.8. 148
  • 148. 3 | Experience concepts a a The meaning of an experience XP in a certain context a, XPa, is only applicable to XP a experiences in the same context a. a a a a b e The meaning of an experience XP in a certain XP a a context a, XPa, is also applicable to experiences in other contexts (b, c, d, e, etc.). d c etcFigure 3.8 –– Differences in impact between meaningful and integrative experiencesPugh (2002; 2004) has used the term ‘‘transformative experience’’ to refer toexperiences of which the meaning boils or spills over to other contexts. Hedistinguishes three qualities to assess transformative experiences: motivated use,expansion of perception, and experiential value. Motivated use is a quality oftransformative experiences that indicates whether individuals apply what they havelearned in other contexts out of free will, when they are not required to do so. Thequality expansion of perception refers to the degree to which the individual activelyuses what he or she has learned to see some aspect of the world differently. Finally,the third quality of transformative experiences is experiential value. This quality isrelated to the value of what has been learned for the experience that it provides. Thevoluntary active use of what has been learned from the integrative experience and thevaluing of the experience this provides can thus lead to a transformation of the 149
  • 149. individual, transforming and enriching his experience with the world (Pugh & Bergin,2005).3.3 CONCLUSION: THE SPECTRUM OF EXPERIENCE-CONCEPTSBased on the characteristics and descriptions of experiences that have been presentedin this chapter, I have constructed a spectrum of experiences as an answer to theresearch question ““How can experiences be conceptualized from an individual’’sperspective?”” As we saw in chapter 2, there is much confusion in the discourse onexperience since many things are being called experience. By using theconceptualizations of experiences described in this chapter, we can distinguish fivedifferent levels of experience: the secondary experience, the primary experience, theemotional experience, the meaningful experience and the integrative experience. Theexperiences are presented graphically in figure 3.9.In figure 3.9 we see that the concepts of experience not only differ in the ways thathave been described in this chapter but that they can also be placed on a scaleaccording to their meaning for and impact on the individual. Objective knowledge,information and other reified forms of experiences have in themselves no meaning forthe individual until he actually comes into contact with them. Going upwards alongthe spectrum the meaning that the individual attaches to the experience and theimpact the experience has on him become greater. Primary experiences consist of adirect contact with the secondary experience that impact the individual’’s senses.Emotional experiences consist of an emotional impact of the primary experience onthe individual. Based on the nature of these emotions and the type of situation, theindividual attaches meaning to the experience, resulting in a meaningful experience.Finally when the experience has an impact on more than one specific context of theindividual’’s life, it becomes an integrative experience. 150
  • 150. 3 | Experience concepts Interpretive In framework fra Change of perspective Learning Le Subjective Su response res Meaning/ impact Sense data Objective Functions as raw material information Secondary Primary Emotional Meaningful Integrativee experience experience experience experience xperience Erlebnissen Erfahrungen Type of experienceFigure 3.9 –– The spectrum of experience-conceptsEvery type of experience can then be said to function as raw material for the type ofexperience placed at its right side on the spectrum and to be needed for the ability tohave the type of experience placed at its right side on the spectrum. Without an objectto have contact with there can be no contact; without secondary experience there canbe no primary experience. Without contact with reality there can be no emotionalresponse to it; without primary (or as I explained in this chapter, in some casesvicarious) experience there can be no emotional experience. Without emotions thatmotivate the individual to act and to interpret the situation, there will be nomeaningful experience. Without the construction of meaning within one context oflife, it cannot boil over to other contexts; hence no integrative experience will bepossible. 151
  • 151. Looking from right to left, figure 3.9 shows that every type of experience causes achange of perspective on the experiences lying to its left on the spectrum. When in anintegrative experience the individual’’s perspective on his whole ‘‘Lebenswelt’’ changes,this will contain a change of perspective on the separate contexts that make up hislifeworld. In an integrative experience the interpretive framework of the individual isinvolved, which has impact on his whole perspective on life and reality and parts ofhis life and reality. When the meaning the individual constructs within one specificcontext changes through his learning process in a meaningful experience, hisperspective changes and his emotional response towards the object changes with it.An example would be an experience in which the individual learns that lightning isnot a sign that the Gods are disgruntled but that it is an electro-magnetic discharge ofclouds. The perhaps initial fear of lightning may then disappear, based on thisknowledge. When the individual’’s feelings towards the object change, his perceptionof it will also change. For example research shows a difference in the perception ofodours between individuals who are interested in the object and individuals who arenot (Bosmans, 2002). The perception of reality that provides sense data is in itselfsubjective. By using instruments like for example microscopes and telescopes forperceiving reality instead of a person’’s own senses, one hopes that (a part of) theuncertainty of sense-based perceptions will be diminished, and that the use ofinstruments will lead to more certain and more equal data (Jay, 2005). However, itshould be clear that even when using instruments the perspective on reality changesrelative to the instrument used. A microscope gives a completely different perspectiveon reality than a telescope for example. Perspectives and their influence on theexperiences will be discussed in further detail in chapter 4.The spectrum in figure 3.9 is helpful in explaining what the limitations are of theconcept of experiences in the environment-centred approach and how theselimitations can be solved. The environment-centred approach shows an inward focuson the objective features of experiences and experiences are presented to theindividual without enough consideration for the individual and the interaction thattogether with the object form the experience. This concept of experience is verysimilar to the secondary experience located on the utter left of the spectrum. Theindividual is confronted with reifications of experience, and not enough attention isbeing paid to the aspects that are needed for experiences lying more to the right side 152
  • 152. 3 | Experience conceptsof the spectrum. In fact, Reed (1996) describes the risks of the present-daydominance of secondary over primary experience. According to Reed (1996),primary experience should be dominant since the meaning of secondaryexperience is derived from it. However, nowadays it is secondary experience thatis often focused on, at the cost of primary experience. People are confronted withmessages and facts that they haven’’t experienced for themselves.By taking into account the characteristics of the different concepts of experiences onthe spectrum in figure 3.9, the lack of attention for experiences that go beyond thelevel of the secondary experience and the dominant focus on the role of organizationsin producing experiences as economic offerings with the ‘‘right’’ objective features canbe balanced out. Objective features produced by the organization are mere secondaryexperiences that function as raw material for the other types of experience and in theend it is the individual who decides what type of experience he or she has; not theorganization. 153
  • 153. C HAPT E R 4 Fun is a good thing, but only when it spoils nothing better. G E O R G E S A N TAYA N A , T H E S E N S E O F B E AU T Y, 1988, P.155154
  • 154. Effects ofexperiencein anintegrativetheory Chapters Chapter 6: 3, 4 & 5: Existential- Experience spectrum phenomenological with insights into: interviews Concepts (ch.3) Effects (ch.4) Values (ch.5) Chapter 2: Chapter 7:3 approaches in current Themes emergedliterature on experience: from interviews: Environment centred Engagement Effect centred Direction Encounter centred Chapter 8: Investment Sound and integrative theoretical foundation for experience economy from the individual’s perspective 155
  • 155. 4.1 INTRODUCTIONIn chapter 2 I argued that there are three main limitations within current marketingand business literature on experiences, in three different approaches of the subject:the environment-, effect-, and encounter-centred approach. In chapter 3 I havepresented a spectrum of experience-concepts to offset the bias within theenvironment-centred approach of the experience economy discourse and in thischapter I will work towards offsetting the bias of the effect-centred approach: thefocus on the management of hedonic effects. As I argued in the discussion of this biasin paragraph 2.4.2, authors who use the effect-centred approach of experience viewexperiences as the positive feelings and emotions that organizations want to instil inindividuals and focus mainly on the management of these effects. They focus on thehedonic effects that they claim individuals seek and seem especially interested in thecausal relations between their actions and the hedonic effects that should result fromthese. I then explained why I see this approach as problematic: by focusing primarilyon the role of organizations in managing and producing predetermined hedoniceffects, the role of the individual and the existence of other effects are neglected. Inthis chapter I will therefore answer the research question: ““Which kinds of effects canexperiences have from an individual’’s perspective?””First I will discuss why the neglect of other effects besides or beyond hedonic effects isproblematic and offer alternative views on effects with which the bias towards hedoniceffects can be offset. I will then explain why I see the focus on managing effects as partof a broader tradition of goal-rationality and the implications of this goal-rationalorientation. By presenting several theories of education, learning and the constructionof meaning I will explain what I view as a useful and viable alternative for this goal-rational orientation. Finally I will use these theories to show that the effect-centredapproach to experiences with its focus on the management of hedonic effects is flawedbecause of an apparent mismatch between the goals that organizations are advised toachieve in current business and marketing literature on the experience economy andthe means that are proposed for achieving these goals. 156
  • 156. 4 | Effects of experienceAn overview of various different effects on individuals will result in a spectrum ofexperience-effects that will be presented at the end of this chapter. This spectrumis meant to offer clarity in the often-confusing discourse on the effects ofexperiences and the role organizations play or should play in the experienceeconomy by showing that there are multiple perspectives on this subject. Besidespaying attention to what roles the organization and individuals play indetermining what the effects of an experience will be, I will also focus on effectsthat go beyond hedonic effects. As was already shown in the overview of experiencedefinitions in chapter 2, the effects of experiences do not just consist of sensory orother pleasures but are mostly stated in terms of knowledge and skills. Whether one isdiscussing, studying, organizing for, or in some other way dealing with experiences,one should first reflect on what effects would be valuable for the individual and whatrole one can play in the emergence of these effects.4.2 FROM HEDONIC EFFECTS TOWARDS A BROADER VIEW ON PSYCHOLOGICALEFFECTSThe focus on hedonic effects can be perceived in many diverse areas of interest,although it is difficult to find a universally accepted definition of what hedonic effectsare. Kahneman, Diener and Schwarz define hedonics as the study of ““what makesexperiences and life pleasant or unpleasant”” (1999, p. ix). However, the unpleasanteffects are often not part of the discussions within the effect-centred approach ofexperience. Usually the management of hedonic effects revolves around themanagement of positive, or pleasurable, hedonic effects for individuals as could beseen also in the examples of experience-effects given in paragraph 2.4.2. There aredifferences between hedonist schools of thought on what the goal in life is (e.g. do onlypleasures in the present moment count or do we also have to take into accountmemories and expectations of past and future pleasures? Does pleasure have to leadto happiness or doesn’’t it? Do we have to add up separate pleasures and detractunpleasures or do we just have to sum up all the pleasures in one life?) but in generalthere seems to be agreement on Kahneman et al’’s (1999) statement that pleasure andunpleasure are the focal points of what interests hedonists. 157
  • 157. One element of hedonic effects that is often alluded to is the immediate sensuousstimulation or gratification of the individual (Vasilyuk, 1991; Campbell, 2002;Hirschman & Holbrook, 1982; Licht, 2004; Wiberg, 2003). In their discussion ofvarious types of pleasurable effects Tiger (1992) and Jordan (2000) call these effects‘‘Physio-pleasures’’, while Kubovy (1999) uses the term ‘‘pleasures of the body’’, bothdenoting positive effects that are related to the body and derived from the sensoryorgans. The idea that immediate gratification and sensuous pleasure are the goal inlife, is usually accredited to Aristippus of Cyrene, living in the 4th and 3rd century BC,who is seen as the founder of the Cyrenaic School of Philosophy. Aristippus held thatbodily indulgences are the goal in life, which, although it is difficult to find factualinformation on this Greek philosopher, has resulted in many scandalous stories on hislife (IEP, 2009). However, according to many theorists hedonism is not constricted tosensory pleasures but to self-interest and pleasure in general. Bentham (1748-1832),who is often seen as the founding father of hedonistic utilitarianism, sees all humanactivity as being ““under the governance of two sovereign masters, pain and pleasure””(Bentham, 1907, p. I:1), and claims that pleasure can result from many activities, butthat it is always one and the same sensation. The only differences between pleasuresare of a quantitative nature, in terms of intensity, duration, certainty, propinquity(nearness or remoteness in time), fecundity (probability that it will lead to otherpleasures), purity (not mixed with contrary sensations of pain) and extent (how manypersons are affected by the pleasure) (Bentham, 1907, pp. IV:1-7). Bentham’’shedonistic utilitarianism has received much criticism though. Some examples ofcriticism that his theory has received are that he equates pleasure with happiness andtakes this to be the goal of life, that he does not take into account the intention ofactions, the existence of evil pleasures or qualitative differences between pleasures,and that his hedonistic calculus is flawed when it comes to interpersonal comparisons(Nussbaum, 2004a). Nozick (1975) has developed a thought experiment to explain thecritique on hedonistic thought. 158
  • 158. 4 | Effects of experience4.2.1 CRITIQUE ON HEDONIC EFFECTSA well-known thought experiment for attacking the hedonistic utilitarian theory isNozick’’s ‘‘Experience Machine’’: ““Suppose there were an experience machine thatwould give you any experience you desired. Superduper neuropsychologists couldstimulate your brain so that you would think and feel you were writing a greatnovel, or making a friend, or reading an interesting book. All the time you wouldbe floating in a tank, with electrodes attached to your brain. Should you plug into thismachine for life, preprogramming your life’’s desires? (...) Of course, while in the tankyou won’’t know that you’’re there; you’’ll think it’’s all actually happening. Others canalso plug in to have the experiences they want, so there’’s no need to stay unplugged toserve them. (Ignore problems such as who will service the machines if everyone plugsin.) Would you plug in? What else can matter to us, other than how our lives feel fromthe inside?”” (1975, p. 43).If pleasure were indeed the prime motivator of human activity, as the hedonists claim,then people would probably welcome such a machine. However, according to Nozick(1975) most people would not choose to enter the machine because they value otherthings besides the pleasurable simulated experiences the machine could offer them.Although one can criticize the thought experiment on several points (e.g. Kawall,1999; Belshaw, 2004; Silverstein, 2000; Baber, 2008; Lemos, 2002; 2004; Rivera-López, 2007; Athanassoulis, 2006), the arguments Nozick (1975) gives for not enteringthe machine and the thought experiment itself are very helpful for understanding thecritique that befalls the focus on hedonic effects within the effect-centred approach ofexperiences.HEDONIC EFFECTS: APPEARANCE WITHOUT CONTENTFirst of all there is critique on the reality of hedonic experiences. Nozick argues that““plugging into an experience machine limits us to a man-made reality, to a world nodeeper or more important than that which people can construct. There is no actualcontact with any deeper reality, though the experience of it can be simulated”” (1975,p. 43). This quote of Nozick may remind the reader of the discussion on the differencebetween primary and secondary experiences in chapter 3. The experiences in the 159
  • 159. Experience Machine offer no contact with the ‘‘raw material’’ and are constructed, andthus filtered, by human beings. The lack of ‘‘real’’ contact with ‘‘real’’ things is a point ofcriticism that can be found in many sources in which a critical position is takenagainst society’’s present attitude towards experiences. One of the terms used todescribe this attitude is ‘‘Disneyfication’’, based on the way in which Walt Disney hasdesigned his themeparks. Disneyfication, or Disneyization as it is also sometimescalled (e.g. Bryman, 2004), refers to a focus on outside appearance and control. Firstof all, Disneyfication denotes a focus more on appearance and design than onsubstance and reality. The focus is more on décor than on content. In the context ofphysical surroundings Zukin (1991) for example complains that there seems to be atrend towards ‘‘landscaping’’, meaning that public space is increasingly being designedto evoke specific effects and experiences and that all other functions that public spacehas, are absorbed by the function of appearance (Mommaas, 2000). This raises thequestion of who should decide which factors should be taken into account in thedesign of physical surroundings. In their article on the authenticity of works of art, Exand Lengkeek (1996) discuss the fact that in the ongoing search to build experiences,there are different types of authenticity one should take into account. Materialauthenticity means that something is made of the original material or by the originalproducer, conceptual authenticity means that something is made according to theideas or intentions of the original maker, contextual authenticity means thatsomething is properly located in its original surroundings, and functional authenticitymeans that the original use function has been preserved. One can see howDisneyfication and landscaping may result in a loss of authenticity on multiple levels.The focus on appearance and design also causes uniformity and hence a loss ofvariety in culture and design, a point of critique that is often cited by cultural critics.Hannigan (1998) for instance calls cities that have been Disneyficated ‘‘Fantasy cities’’.In these cities everything may seem real and original but there is a lack of adventure,unexpectedness, diversity and humanity (Hannigan, 1998). Klein (2002), in her bookNo Logo, sees this phenomenon in a wider context and notices that there is a lack ofdiversity and a trend of homogenization of culture in general, because of the focus onappearance.This focus on appearance and the lack of adventure, unexpectedness, diversity andhumanity that allegedly go with it, can also be related to the focus on control that is 160
  • 160. 4 | Effects of experienceinherent to Disneyfication. Everything is designed in such a way that the audiencegets a feeling of safety and perfection, and people are comforted by the fact thateverything is sanitized and managed, there is no place for unpleasurable surprises.This development has been coined ‘‘disenchantment’’ (Ritzer, 1999), to denote theloss of the enchanted character of reality and the focus on efficiency and control.The environment has to be entertaining for people and people have to be able tofeel like they have escaped everyday reality with its inherent surprises and risksduring their stay. Disneyficated spaces may therefore seem public, but they really arenot. ““[Disneyficated spaces] are being controlled in a strict way and offer limited oreven exclusive access. They are spaces for collective use, but at the same time privateterrain, designed for the execution of productive activities, like shopping and otherforms of leisure. This new public space seems to be ruled by planned technologicaland economic forces, for reasons of optimal manageability”” (Deursen, 2001).A comparison between these characteristics of Disneyfication and the pre-programmed simulations of experiences that people have while being plugged in intoNozick’’s (1975) Experience Machine can easily be made. Many authors agree withNozick that real-life experiences are to be preferred to designed, organised andcontrolled experiences (e.g. Richards, 2001; Edensor, 1998; Battarbee, 2004; Bell,1976; Boorstin, 1964), some referring to the latter as pseudo- or even non-events (e.g.Boorstin, 1964; Bey, 1985/1991). Individuals who choose to participate in this kind ofexperiences are referred to as calculating or programmed hedonists, who allowthemselves to have fun and enjoy themselves but always in a planned, carefullycontrolled way (Desmond, 2002; Featherstone, 1991). They appear to have a ‘‘real’’experience, but instead they engage in ““extreme sports which promise perfectly safe,‘‘near-death’’ experiences”” (Desmond, 2002, p. 25) like bungeejumping, swimmingwith sharks protected by an iron cage, and river rafting. This type of behaviour is alsoreferred to as the ““controlled de-control of emotions”” (Featherstone, 1991, p. 126;Desmond, 2002, p. 25). However, due to the lack of actual contact with reality, theseexperiences ““are stale and dreary. That is why people quickly seek the nextexperience and hence rush from one disappointment to the next”” (Jay, 2005, p. 160).Some people live under constant ‘‘experience stress’’ (““druk van de beleving”” (inDutch), (Visser, 1998)) in their search for always more, and more intense, experiences(Schulze, 2000; Mommaas, 2000; Cauter, 1995). With all these immediate andintense experiences, every moment is dramatized, ““to increase our tensions for a fever 161
  • 161. pitch, and yet to leave us without a resolution, reconciliation, or transformingmoment... This is necessarily the case, since the effects that are created derive notfrom content but almost entirely through technique. There is constant stimulationand disorientation, yet there is also emptiness after the psychedelic moment haspassed”” (Bell, 1976, p. 118). The individual is then perceived as a collector of separatepleasurable moments and memories, without paying attention to the coherence of hisidentity and life. In fact, Nozick has taken the thought experiment one step further,and proposes entering a Transformation Machine, which transforms the individualinto any kind of person he would like to be. With this machine, we would not onlybelieve we had become courageous, intelligent, loved or strong based on what we hadexperienced in the Experience Machine, but we would actually be all these things.More (1997) argues that these abrupt personality changes, which are caused by themachine, would lack the gradual aspect of ‘‘normal’’ personal change and would causea rupture in the chain of psychological connectedness and continuity that makes anindividual the same individual over time. The challenge would be to use technologynot just for providing individuals with immediate pleasurable experiences, but forenhancing the gradual personal growth and development of real human beings (More,1997).HEDONIC EFFECTS: LACK OF ACTIVITYA second point of critique on hedonism that Nozick expresses is: ““First, we want to docertain things, and not just have the experience of doing them”” (Nozick, 1975, p.43).One important reason according to Nozick, for people to not enter the ExperienceMachine, would be the fact that the individual would be passive within the machineand things would happen to him. ““What is most disturbing about [ExperienceMachines] is their living of our lives for us. (……) Perhaps what we desire is to live (anactive verb) ourselves, in contact with reality. (And this, machines cannot do for us.)””(Nozick, 1975, p.43). The idea that human beings are not passive entities, but ratherare actively motivated, has received much attention also within the disciplinesconcerned with media and communication (Blumler, 1979). To explore themotivations that people have for their consumption of media, although themotivations may also apply to non-media consumption, McGuire (1974; 1976) has 162
  • 162. 4 | Effects of experienceprovided one of the most extensive psychological models of human motivations,classifying them into 16 categories based on four dimensions: mode (cognitive ––affective), initiation (active –– passive), stability (preservation –– growth), andorientation (internal –– external), as table 4.1 shows. Initiation Active Passive OrientationMode Internal External Internal External Stability Preservation Consistency Attribution Categorization ObjectificationCognitive Growth Autonomy Stimulation Teleological Utilitarian Preservation Tension-Reduction Expressive Ego-Defensive ReinforcementAffective Growth Assertion Affiliation Identification ModelingTable 4.1 –– Human Motivations according to McGuire (1974, p. 172)The cognitive/affective dimension distinguishes needs focused on informationprocessing versus needs for emotional or feeling states. Hedonic effects clearly belongto the affective mode. The active/passive dimension is concerned with the questionwhether behaviour is caused by an internal pressure (active) or as a reaction toexternal factors (passive). Hedonic effects as described so far in this chapter belong tothe passive category, since they are evoked by external stimuli. Thepreservation/growth dimension differentiates needs for stability versus needs forchange. Hedonic effects belong to the growth category, because the hedonicindividual wants to feel something different from the ordinary. The internal/externaldimension distinguishes between behaviour that is oriented at satisfying theindividual’’s needs by adapting one’’s behaviour in the world (external) or by focusinginward (internal). The orientation of the hedonic effects that the Experience Machine 163
  • 163. is focused on is clearly internal: since the individual is inside the Experience Machine,he cannot act in the world since he is himself cut off from the world. The pre-programmed experiences thus only have an impact on the individual’’s internal stateof mind, not on the world external to the machine.The need that belongs to the affective, passive, growth and internal category isIdentification. Identification refers to needs for role-playing and identity adoption.Playing different roles and adapting the roles one already has, is assumed to bepleasurable for people. Examples of identification could be plugging into theExperience Machine to have the sensation of being a cowboy, or having one’’s picturetaken in Madame Tussauds to have the sensation of being close to a celebrity. As canbe seen in table 4.1, by focusing on hedonic effects as is done in the effect-centredapproach to experience, only a small part of human motivations is taken intoconsideration. Furthermore, by playing out all sorts of scenarios and roles withoutconnecting these to one’’s self, the hedonic experiences may leave the individual withpleasurable memories, but then much of the potential impact of experiences would beignored. Human beings after all are not mere passive receptors or collectors ofpleasurable sensations and roles to play.HEDONIC EFFECTS: HUMAN BEING AS PASSIVE ABSORBER OF STIMULIA third reason that Nozick gives ““for not plugging in is that we want to be a certainway, to be a certain sort of person. Someone floating in a tank is an indeterminateblob. (……) Plugging into the machine is a kind of suicide”” (1975, p. 43). The individualis treated as a ““one size fits all””-receptor of electronically transmitted stimuli with thesole goal of evoking some pleasurable sensation or emotion. The idea of sendingsensory input to individuals, even by the use of electrodes, is a less far-fetched aspectof the Experience Machine thought experiment. Although transmitting messages one-on-one to an individual’’s brain is still technologically impossible (Ambler, Ioannides &Rose, 2000), studies in the areas of neuromarketing are well under way of discoveringhow the brain reacts to affective messages. ““In this ideal, or horrific, marketing world,advertisements could be fine tuned to maximize the intended encoding for the targetmarket while minimizing effects for other individuals”” (Ambler, Ioannides & Rose, 164
  • 164. 4 | Effects of experience2000, p. 4). In principle, it would not necessarily be problematic if sensory inputcould be sent to individuals if these individuals could decide for themselves toaccept the input or not, based on whether they wanted or needed it or not.However, this is not the case. The specific characteristics of hedonic experiences,and actually of experiences in general as I will explain in chapter 5 in thediscussion of the so-called SEC-framework, make for a situation in which theindividual has to have the experience in order to know whether he needed orwanted it. One cannot predict with certainty whether one will like a certain movie orwhether a certain therapy will help in solving personal problems; one knows whetherone liked a movie only after one has seen it and the time it takes to discover whetherthe therapy has helped may be even longer. The risk of disappointment when gettinginvolved in experiences is then much higher compared to a situation in which oneknows in detail what to expect beforehand. When an individual only has vagueexpectations, it is very difficult for him to predict whether the experience he is aboutto engage himself in, will satisfy his needs or desires. There is only one way to find out:experiencing.When the individual has a desire for some pleasurable emotional outcome but doesnot have knowledge about which experiential alternatives will provide these, there ofcourse exists a possibility that he may be disappointed with the experience. When acertain individual for example searches a feeling of excitement he has manyalternatives to choose from, for example reading a detective, watching an actionmovie, going to the race track, bungeejumping, etcetera. Reading may result in toolittle effect, while bungeejumping results in too much excitement for the individual’’staste. It is very hard to predict how much excitement will be just right for theindividual and which experience will offer this level of excitement (Arnould & Price,1993). Even when the individual finds an experience that satisfies him, the chancethat the individual will be disappointed with the experience may grow in time sincethe newness and uniqueness of the first experience will diminish every time theindividual has a comparable experience. Feelings of boredom may develop related tothe experience, resulting in ‘‘experience stress’’, or a need to find ever more intenseexperiences as was described earlier (Jay, 2005; Schulze, 2000; Visser, 1998). Nozick’’scritique refers exactly to this issue: who are we as human beings, if we are not justcollectors of ever more and ever more intense effects? 165
  • 165. 4.2.2 THE EUDAIMONIC ALTERNATIVE FOR HEDONISMAn alternative school of thought called eudaimonism, shares Nozick’’s (1975) critiqueon hedonistic thought. The satisfaction of human motivations and desires and itsconsequences for the psychological state of mind of human beings has in fact been thetopic of a discussion that extends at least as far back as the classical Greek philosophy.Within this centuries-long discussion one can recognize (at least) two perspectives:hedonism and eudaimonism. In fact many authors (e.g. Kraut, 1979; Waterman,1993; Ryan & Deci, 2001) have paid attention to the differences between these twoperspectives. I will discuss some main characteristics of eudaimonism based on thethree points of critique that were explained above: the focus on appearance withoutcontent, the lack of activity and the view of human beings as passive absorbers ofstimuli.To start with the latter, the view of human beings as passive absorbers of stimuli iscompletely in line with my critique on the effect-centred approach of experience incurrent business and marketing literature. The focus in this literature on the role oforganizations as managers of hedonic effects implies a very passive role of individuals,whose main role is often portrayed as in fact absorbing whatever organizations decideto confront them with. As I explained in the discussion of the bias within the effect-centred approach of experience in chapter 2 and as I will further explain in paragraph4.3, individuals are not mere receptors or absorbing sponges but actively givemeaning to what happens to them and as such they play an important role inwhatever effects they will experience. I will explain this issue further in the followingparagraphs so I will now focus on the other two points of critique, to show howeudaimonism intends to offer an alternative perspective.EUDAIMONIC EFFECTS: FIRST AND SECOND ORDER DESIRESAs has already been described above, hedonists argue that a happy person is a personwho tries to maximize pleasure. The fulfilment of one’’s desires, getting what onewants, gives pleasure, which according to the hedonists is the goal of life. However,according to Kraut (1979), people do not just desire, but ““it is natural and inevitablefor us to develop a deep interest in whether or not such desires are being satisfied”” (p. 166
  • 166. 4 | Effects of experience172) and this ‘‘deep interest’’ is what Kraut calls a second-order desire. He explainsthis concept by giving an example that closely resembles Nozick’’s (1975) thoughtexperiment. If a person desires being admired by his friends and his friendsdeceive him by acting like they admire him, can we say that the person’’s desire foradmiration has been satisfied and consequently that this person is happy? Theperson feels like his desire for admiration by his friends has been satisfied (second-order desire), but in reality they do not admire him (first-order desire). Just like theperson in the Experience Machine is led to believe something that in reality is not true,also in this example the person is led to believe that he is admired, while in reality thisis not the case. According to Kraut (1979), happiness involves the recognition thatone’’s desires are actually being fulfilled. The deceived person may feel happy, butaccording to Kraut we cannot say that he is happy, since ““[j]udged by his ownstandards of happiness, he has not attained it, though he is in the same psychologicalstate he would be in if he had attained it”” (1979, p. 179). The second-order desire ofthe individual has been satisfied, since he perceives or believes he is being admired,but he is mistaken so his first-order desire is not really satisfied.Kraut (1979) also gives an example of a situation in which an individual’’s first-orderdesire is satisfied, but not his second-order desire. If the individual attaches muchvalue to his family (first-order desire) and mistakenly believes that his family has beenkilled, can we say that his desire for having family is satisfied? He believes that he haslost his family (second-order desire), when in reality they are alive (first-order desire).Apparently, according to Kraut (1979), true happiness requires a satisfaction of bothfirst- and second-order desires. Satisfaction of just the second-order desires may causepleasure, or a feeling of happiness, but both are needed for true happiness, or beinghappy. The man-made appearance is not enough for eudaimonists, both second- andfirst-order desires have to be fulfilled.The eudaimonists inspired by Aristotle’’s conception of eudaimonia, argue that therecognition that one’’s desires are fulfilled is indeed a necessary condition ofeudaimonia but not a sufficient one. The additional condition is related to the secondpoint of critique on hedonism: the lack of activity. 167
  • 167. EUDAIMONIC EFFECTS: ACTING IN LINE WITH ONE’’S DAIMON.Aristotle argues that for eudaimonia it is also necessary that the individual engages inactivities. These activities should be in accordance with an ideal, which has beentermed virtue, optimal functioning, excellence, daimon, or the true nature orpotential of the individual (Aristoteles, 1997; Nussbaum, 2004a; Waterman, 1993;Ryan & Deci, 2001). Where hedonic effects may be quite passive, as was argued byNozick (1975), eudaimonia refers to activity of the individual. To take an example ofAristotle (1997) himself: ““every random person, even a slave, may enjoy and findhedonic pleasure in bodily indulgences. However, no eudaimonist would call the slavehappy in the eudaimonic meaning. Happiness is not a disposition of a person andcannot be found in amusement or passing the time indulging oneself, but to be happyin the eudaimonic sense of the word the individual has to be able to engage inactivities that bring out the best in him, that make him function optimally”” (p. 303,original in Dutch).Eudaimonia occurs when the activities of individuals are in line with their daimon,with realizing their potentialities (Waterman, 1993, p. 678). In short the differencebetween hedonism and eudaimonia can then be expressed in the sense that a hedoniceffect occurs when individuals get what they want and a eudaimonic effect occurswhen individuals are engaged in an activity in which they can express who they are.Hedonic enjoyment is therefore an effect of a wider range of experience thaneudaimonia. Activity in which individuals act in accordance with their daimon canlead to eudaimonic as well as hedonic effects, if it gives them immediate pleasure, butenjoyable activities in which the individual cannot or does not express himself canlead to hedonic effects but not to eudaimonic effects. Also, as was explained above,hedonic effects may even occur when the individual is not engaged in activity, whilefor eudaimonic effects activity is needed.Examples of hedonic experiences that can have eudaimonic effects are flow oroptimal experiences (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990), peak experiences (Maslow, 1970) andpeak performances (Privette, 1981; 1983; Privette & Bundrick, 1991). Flowexperiences or optimal experiences are states of being completely involved in anactivity for its own sake. The individual is in a state of intense emotional involvementand experiences timelessness that comes from immersive and challenging activities 168
  • 168. 4 | Effects of experience(Csikszentmihalyi, 1990). The activities can be described as intrinsically motivated,autotelic activities that individuals enjoy for their own sake, not for some externalmotivation like money, grades or status. For this reason the experience can becalled hedonic. However, what also characterizes flow or optimal experiences isthat there has to be a certain balance between the challenge provided by theactivity at hand and the skills of the individual. Too much challenge relative to aperson’’s skills leads to anxiety and disengagement, whereas too little leads toboredom and alienation. When the challenge at hand is slightly higher than the skillsthe individual has, there is a chance he will have a flow experience and because of theexperience, his skills may grow so a higher challenge is needed for the individual toarrive in a state of flow the next time, because he has learned. This sense ofaccomplishment of self-competence is a eudaimonic effect that happens notimmediately but as a result of the experiencing process.Intrinsic value or motivation also characterizes the so-called peak experiencesdescribed by Maslow (1970). Peak-experiences according to Maslow (1970) are felt asself-validating, self-justifying moments that carry their own intrinsic value; they areends in themselves, instead of means to some other end. Feelings like fear, anxiety,inhibition, confusion and conflict are said to disappear and the person experiences asense of well-being, completeness and profound joy and significance (Maslow, 1970).Peak performance is an episode of superior functioning or full use of one’’s potentialand is also, like flow and peak experiences, linked to self-actualization. Although theindividual having these types of experience may enjoy himself while having theexperience, and in that sense result in a hedonic effect, but effects may be very longlasting and profoundly impacting for the individual.Another, but related difference between these two types of effects is that hedoniceffects are immediate in pleasurable experiences, while eudaimonic effects can resultfrom activities that at the moment in which the individual engages in them are notpleasurable at all, but that after time result in personal growth and development; theeffects are thus indicative of distinct types of experience (Waterman, 1993). 169
  • 169. 4.2.3 THE SPECTRUM OF PSYCHOLOGICAL EFFECTS OF EXPERIENCE.The three points of critique about hedonic effects that I have discussed so far, thefocus on appearance without content, the lack of activity and the view of humanbeings as passive absorbers of stimuli, are not characteristics of every type ofexperience. The spectrum of experience concepts I presented in chapter 3 shows thatone can distinguish five different concepts of experience (secondary, primary,emotional, meaningful and integrative) of which the secondary experience is notconsidered an experience. Based on the descriptions of the psychological effectsdiscussed above one can notice that the focus on hedonic effects in the effect-centredapproach means that authors and practitioners within this approach pay moreattention to the primary and emotional experiences than they do to the other types ofexperience. As was discussed above, hedonism can be defined in a narrow and in abroad way. The narrow definition sees hedonism as focused on physical sensationswhile the broader definition is focused on pleasurable effects in general. One wouldexpect these two types of effects to be in line with, respectively, the primary and theemotional experiences as is shown in table 4.2.Experiential Secondary Primary Emotional Meaningful Integrativeconcepts experience experience experience experience experiencePsychological Narrow Broad Less immediate effects likeeffects X definition: definition: for example happiness or sensory pleasure in eudaimonia. pleasure general Hedonic effectsTable 4.2 –– Psychological effects for different concepts of experienceHowever, to arrive at a sound and integrative theoretical foundation for theexperience economy from the individual’’s perspective, the broadening of theperspective on psychological effects beyond mere hedonic effects is not enough. Oneshould also take into account the definitions related to the effects of experiences (seetable 4.3) which were not primarily focused on psychological effects like sensory andother types of pleasure, but rather on knowledge and skills, which are more related tolearning. 170
  • 170. 4 | Effects of experienceTo be able to construct a theory for experience that takes into account the effectsof the different experience conceptualizations that have been presented in chapter3, attention should also be paid to these more cognitive effects. However, I willargue that managing effects is problematic. By relating the focus on managingeffects in general to the study of the construction of meaning, called semiotics, Iwill argue that the management of effects by external parties is a difficult if notimpossible goal and explore how effects could be dealt with in a way that other,more cognitive, meanings are also included.Definitionknowledge or skill which is obtained from doing, seeing or feeling things(CALD)knowledge or practical wisdom gained from what one has observed,encountered, or undergone (D)knowledge or skill acquired over time (OC)Knowledge or skill gained over time (OD)the knowledge and skill that you have gained through doing sth for aperiod of time; the process of gaining this (OAL)The knowledge or skill so derived (AHD)Knowledge resulting from actual observation or from what one hasundergone (OED)practical knowledge, skill, or practice derived from direct observation ofor participation in events or in a particular activity (MW)Personal knowledge derived from participation or observation (R)the impression on a person or animal of events (CE)the totality of the cognitions given by perception; all that is perceived,understood, and remembered (D)The fact of being consciously affected by an event. Also an instance ofthis (OED)The fact or state of having been affected by or gained knowledge throughdirect observation or participation (MW)Table 4.3 –– Definitions of experience that are focused on the effects for the individual 171
  • 171. 4.3 LIMITATIONS OF MANAGING EFFECTS IN GENERALThe focus in literature on the experience economy lies mainly on the role of theorganization in managing hedonic effects, or effects in general for that matter. Whathappens when this is the focus is that the role of the individual as a meaning makingbeing is neglected. The organization is perceived as a provider of stimuli that in theencounter with an individual are transformed into effects in a seemingly black boxway. However, especially now that organizations are more and more recognized ascultural producers of symbolic goods (e.g. Rifkin, 2000; Richards, 2001; Featherstone,1991; Levy, 1959; Schulze, 2000; Ter Borg, 2003; Hirschman & Holbrook, 1982)there is an increased need for a better understanding of the workings of this black box,of how meaning is created and effects come about. When goods are perceived as signs,as being symbolic, one needs an understanding of how meaning is created. Thereappears to be much concern about the neglect of this process of meaning making. Inchapter 3, I discussed Reed’’s (1996) concerns about the dominance of secondaryexperiences nowadays, filtered and partial representations of the primary experience,that are not experiences in themselves.However, Reed is not the only author who warns of this imbalance. ““With an everquickening turnover time, objects as well as cultural artifacts become disposable anddepleted of meaning. Some of these objects, such as computers, TVs, VCRs and hifis,produce many more cultural artifacts or signs (‘‘signifiers’’) than people can cope with.People are bombarded with signifiers and increasingly become incapable of attaching‘‘signifieds’’ or meanings to them. (……) People are overloaded by this bombardment ofthe signs”” (Lash & Urry, 1994, pp. 2-3). This overload by a bombardment of thesenses with signs has also been termed as ““an inflation of the sign”” (MacCannell &MacCannell, 1982, p. 132). MacCannell and MacCannell (1982) describe that itseems as if there is a sign-mechanism that produces images, texts and signs in people’’severyday life. More and more, the focus seems on the automated production of““Tear-jerking, thrills and chills, suspicion, the supernatural”” (p. 132). However,without paying attention to how individuals are supposed to cope with all thesestimuli, the meaning-effect of the sign suffers from inflation. In the end this can lead topeople taking signs at face value and just accepting one meaning without being criticaland reflective in reference to the alternative meanings the sign could have.MacCannell and MacCannell (1982) call this phenomenon the ‘‘illusion of 172
  • 172. 4 | Effects of experienceimmanence’’: ““the individual’’s dogmatic belief in a meaning. It does not refer tothe truth or nontruth of that meaning”” (p. 58). One, perhaps arbitrary meaningthat the individual has attached to a sign is taken as ‘‘the’’ meaning of the sign andbecause of a lack of attention for alternative meanings the ““individual subjectivityis promoted to a position of theoretical and/or practical centrality”” (MacCannell& MacCannell, 1982, p. 58). Not only would a mere focus on the supply of morestimuli lead to this ‘‘illusion of immanence’’, it would also lead to ““total mentalchaos”” (Falk & Dierking, 2000, p. 22). Falk and Dierking refer to William James(1890), when they describe that people are continuously bombarded with stimulationsand that ‘‘interest’’ is their filter. ““(O)ne sees how false a notion of experience that iswhich would make it tantamount to the mere presence to the senses of an outwardorder. Millions of items in the outward order are present to my senses which neverproperly enter into my experience. Why? Because they have no interest for me. Myexperience is what I agree to attend to. Only those items which I notice shape mymind –– without selective interest, experience is an utter chaos”” (James, 1890, p. 403).This chaos caused by overstimulation or the supply of an excessive amount ofdisorganized, patternless or chaotic sensory stimuli can lead to confusion,bewilderment and impairment of the ability to think and act clearly (Toffler, 1970).““It is for this reason that practitioners of political or religious brainwashing makeuse …… of sensory bombardment involving flashing lights, rapidly shifting patterns ofcolour, or chaotic sound effects - the whole arsenal of psychedelic kaleidoscopy””(Toffler, 1970, p. 310). There exist some classical techniques that people will make useof to cope with this overload (e.g. denial, specialization, reversion, super-simplification(Toffler, 1970, pp. 319-322)) but these techniques do not do justice to the complexityof reality and generate distorted images of reality.The problem that is pointed out is that there is an abundance of stimuli, but also alack of attention for the capacities that people need to make sense of them. Whenexperiences are not considered as mere hedonic effects that are causal effects of theindividual’’s encounter with stimuli in his environment, then attention should be paidto the process of meaning making. 173
  • 173. 4.3.1 THE CONSTRUCTION OF MEANINGWhen an individual interacts with his environment, which is the basis of everyexperience as we have seen, he is constantly confronted with stimuli via his senses.These external stimuli in the environment are all potential carriers of meaning. Whenthe individual pays attention to them they transform into actual carriers of meaning, orsignifiers. In this sense potential carriers of meaning can be defined as ““any naturallyoccurring unit (‘‘sign vehicle’’) that has the capacity to carry meaning,”” (MacCannell &MacCannell, 1982, p. 58) and it becomes an actual carrier of meaning or a signifier,only when someone sees it as meaning something. This distinction between potentialsignifiers and actual signifiers is important because everything is a potential carrier ofmeaning but the process of meaning construction does not begin until the individualobserves it, as was indicated by the quote of Benjamin James (1890) earlier: ““Myexperience is what I agree to attend to””. Also Kolb (1984) explains the need forobservation in the second phase of his cycle of Experiential Learning (see figure 3.6).In experience terms, the signifier is the environment the individual interacts with.Most studies in semiology are biased towards the signifier, because it is observable andthus easier to analyse (MacCannell & MacCannell, 1982). In itself the signifier has nointrinsic meaning, in the sense that it has to be interpreted by an individual whoinvests it with meaning (Cornelis, 1995); in other words, a meaning has to beconstructed. This meaning is what I will refer to as the signified or the content ofmeaning. For symbols, for example words, this process takes place relativelyautomatically when the individual already knows the symbol. The signifier is given aconstant meaning, which is of course useful for communication. If everyone wouldinterpret words in their own way, communication would be impossible. The samething applies to other signifiers that have been given a fixed or common sensemeaning, like for example a red light in traffic, signifying that you must stop, and theticking with a knife against a glass, announcing that someone is going to speech. Thisfixed or common sense relation between signifiers and signifieds is what Breuer andWuestenberg (1999) call anchors. However, also in many other cases efforts are madeto predefine and fix the signified. Rigid codes of meanings are sometimes used,restricting or even censoring the active construction of meaning (MacCannell &MacCannell, 1982). This happens for example when some authority is telling peoplewhat a certain poem means, or what the painter of a specific painting or the architect 174
  • 174. 4 | Effects of experienceof a certain building meant with it. While these signifieds consist of secondaryexperience and hence of information that has been ““processed - selected, modified,packaged and presented”” (Reed, 1996, p. 3) by the authority, and are thus thesignified according to this authority, it is often presented as ‘‘the’’ meaning, ‘‘the’’truth.Signifiers have no intrinsic meaning and imposing a signified on them restricts theprocess of interpretation by the individual. The range of possible meanings that existsfor any signifier should lead to scepticism about claims for a single, definitiveinterpretation (Gottdiener, 2001). By forcing imposed meanings on individuals, theyare being treated as passive recipients, not as the active constructors of meaning thatthey are. The signified that an individual attaches to a signifier is based on hisinterpretive framework. This framework consists for example of the prior experience,knowledge, motivations, cultural background, emotions, intentions, expectations,everything that a person uses to interpret his environment. Based on this framework,the individual can decide what the personal meaning of this signified is to him.Cornelis (1995) explains this process by using the example of a street-sign. When aperson walks in a city and he sees a street-sign, he first has to recognize it as such andbe able to read it. Only then does it become a signifier. The sign in itself does nothave an intrinsic meaning, but when this person knows the city and has an idea ofwhere streets are and how they are related, he can know where he is, based on thestreet-sign. The person has now attached a signified to the signifier, by placing thesignifier in a bigger context. The meaning that this knowledge of where he is has forthe person, the personal meaning, depends on where he is going, what he wasplanning to do, his intentions, his goals, etc. As long as he does not know this, there isno direction of meaning; the meaning does not become personal. Just as we saw inparagraph 2.4.2, the experience has to be appraised based on the individual’’s interestsor concerns if he is to become emotionally involved (Frijda, 1988b). When theexperience has no impact for the concerns of the individual, personal involvement willbe low, and so will personal meaning. For the experience to have an impact on theindividual, his interpretive framework should be involved which induces theindividual to act in a goal-seeking manner, since individuals ““are purposive in theiractions and will act and react to environmental cues, objects and others, according tothe meaning these hold for them”” (Goulding, 1999, p. 866). 175
  • 175. Using these terms of semiotics, we could describe for example Nozick’’s (1975)Experience Machine as a situation in which the individual is confronted with varioussignifiers by means of electrodes with the aim of having him attach a predeterminedsignified to them upfront, at the moment he programs the machine. The interpretiveframework of the individual, which he uses for making sense of everything thathappens to him at the moment that it happens, seems to have been left out. Perhapsthis is what Nozick had in mind when he argued that an individual that enters themachine is nothing more than an ““indeterminate blob”” (Nozick, 1975, p. 43).Furthermore, the machine has been built and programmed by an individual or teamaccording to their knowledge and skills and could never match the depth of genuinereality (More, 1997). In reality an individual has his own personal and uniqueframework of interpretation that can never be incorporated or replicated insomething that is built or directed by others, let alone by one or just a few otherpersons. I will explain some of the problems that may occur when experiences aremanaged or directed by an external party in the next paragraph.4.3.2 PROBLEMS RELATED TO EXTERNALLY DIRECTED MEANINGWhen the interpretive framework of the individual is neglected, two errors in relationto the construction of meaning may occur: a syntactic error and a semantic error(MacCannell & MacCannell, 1982). In the case of a syntactic error, the signifier istaken at face value and there is no recognition of the fact that it refers to or representssomething else, resulting in an uncritical absorption of the stimuli and impressions. Inthe case of a semantic error, the signified is taken at face value and one attaches awrong meaning to the signifier. I will discuss both errors.SYNTACTIC ERRORS: MISSING ““THAT”” THERE IS A MEANINGIf one does not recognize the fact that a signifier means something, we speak of asyntactical error. It appears that based on the context in which people find themselves,specialized inferential systems in the brain are activated for complex interpretiveprocesses like the detection of predators, cheaters, bluff, and so on (Cosmides &Tooby, 2000). Because of these systems in the brain human being can scan their 176
  • 176. 4 | Effects of experienceenvironment in a search for signs that something is wrong. But the meaning ofsignifiers is not always apparent immediately. It may well be that because of achange of context meaning can be constructed with hindsight. ““A woman whohas just found strong evidence that her husband has been unfaithful may findherself flooded by a torrent of memories about small details that seemedmeaningless at the time but that now fit into an interpretation of covert activity””(Cosmides & Tooby, 2000, p. 126). Whereas the woman in this example did notnotice that the details had meaning and hence made a syntactic error, the changedcontext caused everything to be reinterpreted.The assumption that signs are taken at face value means that the context in whichsigns are interpreted is neglected. This can for example cause problems fororganizational development programs. Organizational development programs areoften implemented in contexts that have not been accommodated to theimplementation, causing disappointing results (e.g. the Deerhunting metaphor(Morgan, 1997b, pp. 167-169)). Separating the essence of the development programfrom the context in which it is valid changes its meaning. But if one does notrecognize that there is a meaning and that this meaning is dependent on the context,the program becomes a trophy on the wall, an isolated signifier that is taken at facevalue. Unfortunately this syntactic error will cause the program not to have theintended effects. In a similar way subject matters in education are presented in anisolated way, out of context, causing a loss of contact with the raw material as Dewey(1958) calls it.Especially nowadays that the recognition of the symbolic function of consumption isgrowing, there is a greater need for paying attention to the process of meaningmaking and contexts. Research shows that people buy and possess things to whichthey attach signifieds that cannot be explained based on mere functional benefits andobjective features (Holbrook & Schindler, 2003; Csikszentmihalyi & Rochberg-Halton,1981; Dittmar, 1992). Examples are objects that have been invested with meaningbecause they stand for or remind one of rites of passage (e.g. wedding rings, the firstthing one bought with his first pay-check, the backpack used during one’’s round-the-world-trip), accomplishments (e.g. trophies, diplomas), associations with other people(e.g. gifts, religious and ethnic symbols), memories (e.g. holiday pictures, souvenirs),etc. In all these cases the context is decisive for the meaning that the individual 177
  • 177. constructs. Although many of these examples have a symbolic, representing, functionas their main function, ““other types of objects with a more clear-cut function canprovide just as many meanings”” (Csikszentmihalyi & Rochberg-Halton, 1981, p. 20).Objects like for example furniture, visual art, books, plants, and even TV’’s andstereos are imbued with meaning beyond their functional benefits (Csikszentmihalyi &Rochberg-Halton, 1981). What happens in this process is that the signifier cannot betaken at face value, because the context in which it was obtained or used, hasinfluenced the meaning it has for the individual. The backpack used for one’’s round-the-world-trip, is not just a backpack anymore, and thus cannot be replaced by justanother backpack. The individual is related to the object because of the meaning ithas for him and the context it was used in has changed its meaning. Organizationsthat focus solely on the functional benefits of their products in their communicationand marketing, make a syntactic error by not recognizing the meaning that theproducts may have for individuals.SEMANTIC ERRORS: MISSING ““WHAT”” THE MEANING ISIn the case of a semantic error the sign is placed in a wrong context, which leaves theindividual with a flawed understanding of the actual or complete meaning of it.Highlighting one specific detail of a complex situation and presenting the situation asif that detail is the whole picture is an example of a semantic error. In other words,when the syntactic component is lacking, one misses the point ‘‘that’’ there is ameaning, the signifier is taken at face-value, and when a semantic error happens onegets a wrong view on ‘‘what’’ the meaning is, the signified is taken at face value.The semantic error consists of not recognizing that a sign may mean different thingsunder different circumstances. The assumption is that the sign will be interpreted inthe same way by anyone confronted with it. However, individuals interpret signs intheir context and construe meaning within this context. It is then possible that a validmeaning becomes invalid when used under different circumstances. An example is thevalidity of the rule that one should drive at the right side of the road. In the context ofmany countries this rule is valid. However, in the context of countries like the UnitedKingdom, Australia and South Africa, this rule obviously is invalid. 178
  • 178. 4 | Effects of experienceNow it is clear that we are dealing with an agreement here. It has beendetermined that in one country people should drive on the right side of the roadand in another one should drive on the left. These are rules we all agree upon.The same thing applies to a language community in which we agree on themeaning of many words, making it possible to communicate and understand eachother and other types of communities that have their own symbols (Cohen, 1985).However, one should always remember that these relations between signifiers andsignifieds are in a way arbitrary. It is not a law of nature that we stop for a red light;this is something we have agreed upon. It is also completely possible to agree uponsomething else and change the meaning we give to certain signifiers. Ages ago athunderstorm was interpreted as a sign that the Gods were angry, nowadays mostpeople see it as a sign of electrical discharge. In the same way terms as burnout andstress are now used in a human context instead of the industrial context for whichthey were invented, causing a change in their meaning. Thumbs up nowadays is asign that something is going well, where in other times it meant that the gladiator hadto be killed. These signifieds are all a matter of agreement and convention.Semantic errors often happen within communication processes between organizationsand individuals, in which organizations provide the individual with their signified to““make sure that their symbols are always interpreted ‘‘correctly’’”” (Christensen &Cheney, 2000, p. 257). Even when communicating ‘‘the’’ meaning of buildings (Berg &Kreiner, 1990) or applying labels as ‘‘heritage’’ (Franquesa & Morell, 2007) or ‘‘nature’’(Jacobs, van den Berg et al, 2002) the individual is provided with a signified as definedby an authority. What happens in these cases is that one perspective is madedominant and one signified is forced upon the signifier. However, ““(o)bservation isnever neutral; the gaze is directed from a particular point of view”” (Hastrup, 1995, p.4). The perspective someone has on reality, determines what he sees and whatmeaning he constructs. Perspectives are also referred to as worldviews, valuesystemsor frames of reference, and social constructivism sees differences between these as themain cause for miscommunications (Huizing, 2002, p. 158). Every individual seesreality in a certain way and has certain interests, intentions, and purposes that causehim to direct his attention to certain aspects of reality and to attach certain meaningsto reality, ““meanings that are brought to it by the particular agendas of its users””(Halley, 1997, p. 194). Another person, with a different perspective, has differentintentions and interests and pays attention to different aspects of reality. 179
  • 179. However, perspectives that become institutionalized, like for example disciplines inscience, can function as ““organizers of information”” (Douglas, 1986, p. 47), causingcertain signifieds to become dominant. Institutionalized perspectives influence theway we view the world by teaching us how we should view it, what we should belooking for and paying attention to. When perspectives change, for example when ourintentions change, we focus on different aspects of reality. When hungry, we look forfood and interpret our environment in terms of edibility, but when our appetite hasbeen satisfied we can focus attention on different things. When working, a carmechanic looks for broken things under the hood, he interprets the contents in termsof repairability, and when the car is fixed he can focus on different things.We interpret our environment in terms of our intentions. We do not just observe, butwe perceive by relating what we observe in our environment to our intentions andpurposes. One has to be conscious of the fact that our intentions and purposes are notthe only ones possible, that the way in which we order and categorize ourenvironment is not the only possible way, that our perspective is not the onlyperspective and that therefore our meaning is not the only possible meaning. ““Isuppose it is tempting,”” says Maslow, ““if the only tool you have is a hammer, to treateverything as if it were a nail”” (1966, pp. 15-16). Perspectives work like filters or lensesand just like there are lenses that work better for looking at the stars, there are alsolenses that are fit for looking at bacteria. The German philosopher Jean Gebser (1986)speaks of perspectivist reason or perspectivist rationality as a rather restricted vision ofreality through the narrow lense of just one perspective. Every perspective in isolationgives us a partial, limited, or even distorted view of reality, and only by taking intoconsideration various perspectives and contexts will we gain a better understanding ofthe nature of reality. Reality consists of possibilities and only some of these are maderelevant in given situations. By defining reality in a certain way, other definitions areexcluded (Jansen, Jägers & van den Nieuwenhof, 2003). However no interpretation,perception or definition of reality is definitive or final (Gadamer, 2004), ““rather it is adynamic searching for the best interpretation of the available data”” (Gregory, 1966, p.11). However, when in the case of a semantic error a wrong meaning is considered asdefinitive and one does not search for a better, let alone the best, interpretation, onecan imagine that problems may arise. 180
  • 180. 4 | Effects of experienceWhen a perspective limits the view of available possibilities, this can have seriousimplications for finding solutions to problems and answers to questions.Perspectives can ““limit people’’s choice sets by indicating what is likely to be seenas viable or productive, and define the implications of their choices. They affectwhat people try to understand, what problems they attempt to address, and howthey direct their imagination and learning toward the yet unknown and unusedproductive services of resources and (core) capabilities”” (Huizing, 2002, p. 163).Problems are not fixed; people construct problems as responses to complex andtroubling situations by selecting and highlighting some specific features and relationsfrom reality and fitting these to the image that they have built of the situation (Schön,1979; Saffer, 2005). When a problem has been ““named and framed”” (Schön, 1979, p.264), for example by using a metaphor to describe it, the solution often seems obvious,restricting the consideration of all possible solutions. But when just a small portion ofpossible interpretations and possible solutions is considered, the chance that Gregory’’s““best interpretation of the available data”” (1966, p. 11) is found is small, leading topoor practice (McMahon, 1999; Ashcroft & Foreman-Peck, 1994).The conceptualization of syntactic and semantic errors clarifies some problems withthe bias of marketing and business scholars who focus on the management of hedoniceffects. Their objectivistic orientation on effects may lead to situations in which stimuliare sent to individuals without an understanding of whether these individuals willrecognize them as signifying something (potential syntactic error) and if so, whetherthe interpretation by these individuals in their context will be in line with the meaningthat the organization hopes or expects the individuals will construct (potentialsemantic error). Syntactic and semantic errors point to severe problems related to theability to manage the effects of experiences. In this context, Tyrrell (1947) has putforward the terms ‘‘convergent’’ and ‘‘divergent’’ to distinguish problems that can besolved by use of logical reasoning and scientific method, from those that cannot. I willuse the concepts of convergence and divergence to explore why there is so muchattention for the management of effects and how one can deal with non-manageableeffects by focusing more on divergence. 181
  • 181. 4.4 CONVERGENCE VERSUS DIVERGENCE IN RELATION TO EFFECTSTyrrell (1947) claims that convergent problems do not exist in reality, but are createdby a process of abstraction. ““The true problems of living (……) are always problems ofovercoming or reconciling opposites. They are divergent problems and have nosolution in the ordinary sense of the word”” (Tyrrell, 1947, p. 89). Although a processof reduction and abstraction of reality can translate all divergent problems intoconvergent problems, the price of doing so in terms of knowledge is high. Theseproblems cannot be understood or solved by subdividing them into their componentparts, since systems are often destroyed when splitted up (Erickson, 1986).Graphically the difference between convergent and divergent problems can bepresented as in figure 4.1. potential potential option Convergent solution Divergent option option potential potentialFigure 4.1 –– Convergent and Divergent problems after Laurel’’s Flying Wedge (1993)For a convergent problem the goal is the solution of the problem. The problem is‘‘named and framed’’ and the choices that have to be made are concerned with themost efficient and effective means with which to attain the goal. In the case of adivergent problem, choices have to be made related to which goal to strive for. Thereare many possible options and one first has to decide on which option to choose. Bytaking into account the multiple options and possibilities, the perspective is notrestricted prematurely and more use is made of the potential for discovering a betterinterpretation of the available data. The concepts thus refer to two different modes ofoperation; one narrows the mental focus until it converges into a solution, the otherbroadens the mental focus in many different directions. Convergent thinking searchesfor solutions within existing frameworks and is oriented at the continuation of existing 182
  • 182. 4 | Effects of experiencestructures, while divergent thinking places these existing frameworks andstructures in a bigger context to be able to cope with change. Instead of aconvergence towards one answer, one solution, in a situation of change oruncertainty there is a need for a divergent search for alternatives and possibilitiesto be able to make sense of the world, to find meaning in the world.Meaning is constructed by individuals and can thus not be given or transferred topeople like objects can. The construction of meaning is clearly a divergent problem,for which there is not one right solution. The individual interprets and relates to hisenvironment within a certain context and by using his inherently personal interpretiveframework. There is an unlimited quantity of possible contexts and uniqueinterpretive frameworks since each person has a unique collection of existingknowledge, prior experience, concerns, motivations and goals. This makes themanagement of the interpretive process, with the aim of controlling the meaning thatthe person will attach to whatever happens to him a difficult, if not impossible, task. Itwould therefore be worthwhile to see whether there are ways to have individualsexperience positive effects without neglecting the constructed and situated nature ofmeaning.4.4.1 A BROADER PERSPECTIVE OF CONVERGENCEConvergence and the focus on the management of effects can be related to morefundamental characteristics of society. Many authors concerned with modernWestern society have focused on the dominance of one type of rationality at the costof the other types. Weber, for example, has distinguished four types of rationality, inorder to make a comprehensive list of the types of meaning that people give to theirbehaviour (Tromp, 2001). He describes that in Western society formal, orinstrumental rationality, which involves a choice of means to ends guided byuniversally applied rules and laws (Ritzer, 1999), is highly dominant, at the cost ofother types of rationality. In a similar vein, Habermas (1985) describes thecolonization of the lifeworld by the system with its purposive rationality. In hisviewpoint the focus is on the effective and efficient use of methods and means toattain predetermined goals. Although the dominant type of rationality has its obviousmerits in terms of effective and efficient action, its dominance comes at the cost of 183
  • 183. other types of rationality and causes a lack of attention for the goals themselves. Thefocus is on the means to attain predetermined goals, rather than on the goalsthemselves. Unfortunately, there are many situations in which the predeterminationof goals causes a problem in terms of finding the best possible understanding ofsituations (Feenberg, 1996). We lack methods to evaluate the goals or ends themselves(Cornelis, 1995) and all divergent questions about what should be done are reduced tofinding convergent technical solutions to given goals. Thus reason is restricted toinstrumental reasoning, means-ends reasoning, or purposive rationality. The goals ofaction are considered fixed, and the only decision that has to be made has to do withthe most efficient and effective combination of means to attain the goal (Habermas,1985). Procedural and quantifiable correctness are the only valuable standards againstwhich to make decisions, evaluations or judgments. The goals themselves are notquestioned.As we saw, every perspective offers a partial and different view on reality and holds itsown definitions of various aspects of reality. According to one’’s perspective, one andthe same situation in reality may appear a convergent situation for one person and adivergent one for the next. These perspectives on reality and the definitions that arecontained within them can be seen as directive intentions (Cornelis, 1995). Forexample, the definition of a human being as an economic creature usually means thatone should direct attention to economic problems and that economists and their viewsand ideas should govern the world. When a human being is defined as a physicalcreature, this means that all linguistic and social sciences are irrelevant. Definitionshide many kinds of directive intentions and problems may arise when concepts aremissing to evaluate and adjust directive intentions, to determine the validity of thedefinitions in use (Cornelis, 1995, pp. 79-82).Cornelis (1995) explains the problem by referring to the difference between what hehas termed the social ruling system (‘‘sociaal regelsysteem’’) and communicative self-direction (‘‘communicatieve zelfsturing’’). In a social ruling system, like modernWestern society, individuals are supposed to obey to rules and norms and actaccordingly; an action brought about by a clearly formulated rule which is rigorouslyfollowed and executed correctly, is always considered to be right (Cornelis, 1995, p.197). This conception of the obedient individual comes forward from causal thinking, 184
  • 184. 4 | Effects of experiencethe idea that one and the same cause will always result in the same consequences.In fact, a stone always falls downward, gravity does not learn. The laws of natureare unchangeable; this is where determinism finds its support. Within a socialruling system, a decision is made on what should happen and attention is paid toattaining this goal in a convergent way. In this sense the perspective within theeffect-centred approach, with its focus on an organization that determines whicheffects the experience should invoke in the individual, resonates with theperspective of the social ruling system. But I want to argue in the next paragraph thatthis deterministic conception becomes mistaken when we try to apply it to a humanbeing who is creating meaning in an experience (Cornelis, 1995; Schumacher, 1978).The convergent thinking that characterizes the effect-centred approach of theexperience economy, with its focus on the management of (predetermined) hedoniceffects, goes against the divergent thinking that is needed to understand how effectshappen in individuals.4.4.2 CONVERGENCE AND DIVERGENCE IN THE CONTEXT OF CREATING MEANINGThe methods of the social ruling system have been developed to control and producethe consequences of actions (Cornelis, 1995). They prescribe the course of action toarrive at a desired and fixed goal. In areas where consequences are fixed and known,these methods can function as intended. But in situations of change and in situationswhere new knowledge is produced and new meaning is constructed, one can neverknow for sure what the exact consequences will be. In other words ““convergence maybe expected with regard to any problem that does not involve life, consciousness orself-awareness”” (Schumacher, 1978, p. 144). In situations that in fact do ““involve life,consciousness or self-awareness””, the goals are mere intentions because future eventsor consequences are hypothetical according to Cornelis (1995). First of all, one cannever know the future objective consequences of actions, since knowing the future isempirically impossible. The existence of unintended consequences shows thehypothetical character of goals. The second hypothesis concerns the methods in use.The idea within the dominant type of rationality is that a certain method or programfor action will be the most effective for reaching a certain goal. Here exists insecuritytoo, because only the future will tell whether the method was effective and perhapsmore effective methods exist or will be found in the future. Therefore, the effect- 185
  • 185. centred literature of many marketing and business scholars in the field of theexperience economy, focused on techniques to manage certain effects in individuals,mainly contains hypothetical advice. The third hypothesis concerns whetherintentions also reflect what will be valued in the future. When seeing the effectsafterwards, perhaps the results will not be considered valuable, or not valuableenough. The third hypothesis is that the intentions will also turn out to be values inthe future and will be experienced as valuable. Cornelis (1995) describes thishypothesis in terms of the validity of the directive purpose. The hedonic effects thatare primarily focused on in the effect-centred literature may not be the optimal goal,for neither the organization nor the individual.The neglect of these three hypotheses may cause three types of errors. Hence threetypes of learning are required, since learning can be seen as involving the detectionand correction of error (Argyris & Schön, 1978). Errors on the level of events, whenunintended consequences occur, are what we call negative feedback. Often ananalogy is made referring to the workings of a thermostat. A thermostat scans thetemperature of the environment and becomes active only when it receives negativefeedback from the environment, in this case the fact that the temperature is either toohigh or too low. Receiving negative feedback can be placed in the first stage of theExperiential Learning Cycle (Kolb, 1984; see figure 3.6) and has been termedlearning of the 0th order (Cornelis, 1995) or Learning 0 (Bateson, 1972). The zeroindicates that receiving feedback in and of itself is not a process of learning; learninghappens only at the higher levels of correction (Cornelis, 1995).The detection and correction of errors on the level of the methods in use is what weusually refer to as learning (Bateson, 1972). In this case the strategy, techniques ormethods are made more effective or efficient, without altering the given or chosengoals, values or plans as I described in the discussion of the dominant type ofrationality. This type of learning has been described as Learning I (Bateson, 1972),learning of the first order (Cornelis, 1995), adaptive learning (Senge, 1990) or single-loop learning (Argyris & Schön, 1978).When errors are detected on the level of the validity of the directive purpose, the endsare no longer fixed, but critically approached and if required they can be altered. 186
  • 186. 4 | Effects of experienceCornelis (1995) calls this type of correction takeback. In takeback the goals arecontinuously reviewed and what seemed important and valuable once, may not beimportant and valuable anymore. Takeback evaluates, as a decision afterwards,whether the consequences were intended (Cornelis, 1995, p. 307). The concept oftakeback expresses a change of policy, a change in the choice of values as directiveintention. Assumptions that underlie events and strategies are questioned andexamined on an ongoing basis, and when found ill-fitted, they are modified. Thecorrection of this type of errors has been described using various different names, forexample: learning of the second order (Cornelis, 1995), double-loop learning (Argyris& Schön, 1978) and generative learning (Senge, 1990). Also in descriptions of wisdomone can find elements of this type of correction at the level of values and purpose.Weick (2005) for example, writes: ““Wisdom is an attitude taken by persons toward thebeliefs, values, knowledge, information, abilities, and skills that are held, a tendency todoubt that these are necessarily true or valid and to doubt that they are an exhaustiveset of those things that could be known”” (p.113).The descriptions of these three types of learning show similarities with the threeaspects of the construction of meaning I presented in the last paragraph: the carrier ofmeaning or signifier, the content of meaning or signified, and the interpretiveframework. In the case of feedback, a potential carrier of meaning is recognized as anactual carrier of meaning, like in the example of the thermostat. At the level ofmethods, the focus is on the signified. Based on the predetermined goal of wanting totransfer a certain signified, events are interpreted and methods are used in accordancewith this goal. At the level of takeback, the interpretive framework is involved. Valuesand assumptions are part of the framework that individuals use to interpret reality, sowhen these change, the framework changes.Especially in situations of change and complexity, of divergent problems, the focusshould be on takeback and the interpretive framework. When the hypothetical natureof intentions as described above is neglected or denied, people might unknowinglycontinue striving for goals that are not in line with their intentions and what theyvalue. Becoming more effective and efficient at the level of methods, will then onlyhelp in taking people further away from their goals since they are working with oldideas and knowledge in new situations (Cornelis, 1995, p. 18). What is needed isreflexivity concerning the goals, and individuals need a framework that enables them 187
  • 187. to choose among all the available options, since the old frameworks of traditions, rulesand norms have either disappeared or are not sufficient anymore.In divergent situations, the dominant focus on learning for achieving a predefinedgoal within one context should be substituted by a focus on learning about multipleperspectives to discover more possibilities and alternatives resulting in betterinterpretations of reality and creative and contextual choices (Jansen, Jägers & vanden Nieuwenhof, 2003). When more perspectives on a situation are available, a morecomprehensive view is obtained, providing more possibilities for action. ““New insightsoften arise as one approaches situations from ““new angles”” and (……) a wide and variedreading can create a wide and varied range of action possibilities”” (Morgan, 1997a, p.4). Especially in a time of increasing divergent problems the variety of perspectivesand possibilities becomes more important. A divergent problem cannot be managedin a strict, controlling way, since this would mean ““to kill it”” (Schumacher, 1978, p.145), or ““to instil deadness”” (Lear, 1998, p. 3). By claiming that one has answered thequestion or solved the problem, one reaches a conclusion and is able to stop thinkingcritically and stop searching for alternatives. The descriptions of the concepts of experience that were presented in chapter 3 showthat meaningful experiences can involve convergent learning, but integrativeexperiences, which cause a change in the interpretive framework or worldview of theindividual, always involve divergent learning. The learning effects for the differentconcepts of experience are shown in table 4.4.Although many advocate a divergent way of thinking and learning, the advice on howto think and learn in a divergent way often remains vague and abstract. Insights fromstudies in the field of educational psychology can be used to understand more clearlywhat is needed for this type of learning. 188
  • 188. 4 | Effects of experience Concept of Secondary Primary Emotional Meaningful Integrative experience experience experience experience experience experience Focus Potential Signifier/ Actual carrier of Signified Interpretive carrier of meaning framework meaning Learning n/a Learning of the nullth Divergent Learning of effects order, feedback learning, the second strategy order; Divergent learning, takebackTable 4.4 –– Learning effects for different concepts of experience4.4.3 SUPPORTING DIVERGENT LEARNINGScholars in the field of educational psychology have made various efforts in clarifyingthe distinction between convergent and divergent learning and how these may bedealt with. I will discuss two theories that are useful in understanding whatorganizations that want to support divergent learning should do.FROM A SURFACE TO A DEEP APPROACH TO LEARNINGMarton and Säljö (1976b; 1976a) make a distinction between surface and deepapproaches to learning which show a great resemblance with the distinction betweenrespectively convergent and divergent learning. ““In the case of surface-level processing thestudent directs his attention towards learning the text itself (the sign), i.e., he has a‘‘reproductive’’ conception of learning …… In the case of deep-level processing, on the otherhand, the student is directed towards the intentional content of the learning material(what is signified), i.e., he is directed towards comprehending what the author wants tosay about”” (Marton & Säljö, 1976a, pp. 7-8) the subject. Where in the case of thesurface approach to learning the focus is on trying to memorize as much elements ofthe sign as possible to arrive at precise and unambiguous knowledge, the deepapproach is focused on understanding what is meant and how this meaning is 189
  • 189. constructed, by relating the sign to other contexts and tasks, existing understandingand personal experience. The relationships between these elements result in thedevelopment of a cohesive whole, which is what constitutes the understanding ofmeaning, meaning that goes beyond the immediate task at hand (Cope, 2002). This““involves a change in an individual’’s way of experiencing a phenomenon. Theinternal relationship between the individual and the phenomenon changes as a resultof new experiences of the phenomenon. The internal relationship involves moreexperiences or more or stronger relationships between experiences. The individual isable to reconstitute a more complex way of experiencing the phenomenon. Thephenomenon is understood in a deeper way”” (Cope, 2000, p. 15).Secondary Primary Emotional Meaningful Integrativeexperience experience experience experience experienceSurface approach Deep approachto learning to learningFigure 4.2 –– Spectrum of experience concepts related to surface and deep approaches to learningMarton et al (1993) distinguish six qualitatively different conceptions of learning,which have often been related to the surface and deep approaches to learning. Thefirst three conceptions, A) increasing one’’s knowledge, B) memorizing andreproducing and C) applying, are consumption-related in the sense that the learningmaterial is perceived as being taken in by and stored in the individual. Furthermore,in the first three conceptions the knowledge that is acquired by learning is seen assomething ready-made, given, something that exists ““out there””, waiting to be pickedup, taken in and stored. In these views on learning the individual is seen as a passiveconsumer of facts and knowledge. One just has to confront him with them and he willabsorb them or take them in. Related to experience, one could argue that this is quitesimilar to how secondary experiences are seen. Produce something, confront theindividual with it and effects will happen. The first three conceptions of learning canalso be related to Erlebnissen. Increasing one’’s knowledge (A) and memorizing andreproducing (B) for example have a strong quantitative focus: the goal of learning is to 190
  • 190. 4 | Effects of experiencegain more (pieces) of knowledge (A) or to exactly reproduce the learning materialin a test or performance (B). The hunger for experience and experience-stress ofindividuals that were discussed earlier, clearly allude to this quantitative focus oncollecting more and ever more intense experiences, sensations and emotions. Alsothe goal of memorization and reproduction can be recognized in the current viewson experience. Memorability is even claimed to be part of the nature ofexperiences (Pine & Gilmore, 1999, p. 6). If the individual is able to apply theknowledge that he has gained in the experience, we speak of learning as applying (C).The individual retrieves his memories of what has been learned and stored and is ableto apply them.The other three conceptions of learning are D) understanding, E) seeing something ina different way and F) changing as a person. The difference between the first threeand the last three conceptions of learning is that in the last three conceptions meaninghas a central role and knowledge is not something that exists ““out there””, waiting tobe discovered and taken in. The conceptions of learning as understanding (D) and asseeing something in a different way (E) for example mean that the individual activelyengages with the learning material. He or she relates parts of the material to eachother or relates the meaning of the material to other events and ideas to understand(D) it better, or looks at the learning material as part of a greater whole beyond thecontext of study, so the effects of learning are located in the individual’’s lifeworld (E).Translated to the context of experiences, these conceptions show many similarities toErfahrungen. The individual actively engages in the construction of meaning so theeffects are not just immediate sensations and emotions but they are learned for thelonger term, and effects do not necessarily have to be contained in the original contextbut may also spill over to other contexts of the individual’’s life. Also the sixthconception of learning that was distinguished by Marton et al (1993), changing as aperson (F), can be related to Erfahrungen. The individual can for example come tosee himself as a more capable person, because of his wider perspective on things.The critical difference between the surface and the deep learning approach lies in theintentions of the individual (Rhem, 1995; Tereseviciene, 2004; Cope, 2002). Theapproaches are not personal traits of individuals, but they are chosen based on theperceived context and the resulting intentions and expectations (Rhem, 1995; Ryan &Deci, 2000). Individuals who perceive a task as resulting in an assessment of their 191
  • 191. factual memorizing of the text are inclined to take a surface approach and herebychoose to try to remember as many facts as possible for reproduction at an exam.Since their intention is not a better understanding of the text, they can take a shortterm approach, reproduce everything they can remember at the exam and then forget.A surface approach to learning is characterised by an individual completing a taskbased on what he perceives as being expected from him (Cope, 2002), which results inan extrinsic motivation.Extrinsic motivation is often considered as a singular construct, opposed to intrinsicmotivation, but according to Deci & Ryan (1985; 2002) there are different forms ofextrinsic motivation.FROM AN EXTERNAL TO AN INTERNAL PERCEIVED LOCUS OF CAUSALITYIn the Organismic Integration Theory, a subtheory of Deci & Ryan’’s (1985) overallSelf-Determination Theory, they have described the distinct types of extrinsicmotivation, presented in figure 4.3, based on the degree of ‘‘internalization’’ and the‘‘perceived locus of causality’’ (usually referred to as PLOC).Behavior Nonself-determined Self-determinedMotivation Amotivation Extrinsic motivation Intrinsic motivationRegulatory styles Non-regulation External Introjected Identified Integrated Intrinsic regulation regulation regulation regulation regulationPerceived locus of Impersonal External Somewhat Somewhat Internal Internalcausality external internalFigure 4.3 –– The Self-Determination Continuum showing types of motivation with their regulatory styles andperceived loci of causality (Ryan & Deci, 2000, p.72)The perceived locus of causality can be either internal (I-PLOC) or external (E-PLOC)(De Charms, 1968). I-PLOC means that an individual perceives himself as being the‘‘origin’’ of his own action or behaviour, while E-PLOC refers to situations in whichthe individual perceives himself as being a ‘‘pawn’’ manipulated by external,heteronomous forces. The distinction between these two perceived loci of causalityhas often been used for the study of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, and for thestudy of perceived autonomy (Deci & Ryan, 1985; Ryan & Connell, 1989). Perceived 192
  • 192. 4 | Effects of experienceautonomy is an important aspect in theories of internalization, which suggest thatself-perceptions of the reasons for behaviour can be differentiated along acontinuum of autonomy. The more internalized the reason for doing something,called ‘‘regulation’’ in this theory, the more the behaviour is experienced asautonomous and self-determined. As can be seen in figure 4.3, Ryan and Deci(2000) distinguish between external regulation, introjected regulation, identifiedregulation, and integrated regulation. These regulatory styles are all related toextrinsic motivation, but the degree in which they denote autonomous and self-determined behaviour differs.External regulation means that behaviour is explained by reference to externalauthority, fear of punishment, rule compliance, or other external demands orcontingencies (Ryan & Deci, 2000; Deci & Ryan, 2000; Ryan & Connell, 1989). Thisis the least autonomous of behaviours and it is difficult to maintain because when thecontingencies disappear, the externally regulated behaviour is ceased (Deci & Ryan,2000). In terms of effects of experiences, one can think of the example of an individualentering a location designed by an organization, in which he is experiencing all sortsof sensations in reaction to the stimuli that the organization confronts him with.When the individual leaves the location, the confrontation with the stimuli comes to ahold and so do the sensations that were evoked by the stimuli. When a formerlyexternal regulation has been ‘‘taken in’’ and is enforced through internal pressures suchas guilt, shame or anxiety, this is called introjection (Ryan & Connell, 1989). Whereexternally regulated behaviour was controlled from the outside, the control is nowexecuted from the inside, resulting in a still relatively controlled kind of behaviour(Ryan & Deci, 2000; Deci & Ryan, 2000). An example would be an experience inwhich the behaviour of the individual is controlled by a desire to maintain a goodrelationship with others and positive feelings about himself. Examples of reasons forbehaviour would be the individual’’s desire for other people to think positively of him,or self-esteem-related, like the individual’’s desire to not feel bad or ashamed about hisactions. The introjected regulation causes much anxiety for the individual (Ryan &Connell, 1989) and it is therefore questionable that this would be the best regulationfor organizations to focus on. When behaviour is regulated through identification, thebehaviour is more autonomous and self-determined. The underlying value andimportance of the behaviour is recognized and accepted as personally important. Theindividual’’s actions now involve his own values and goals (Ryan & Deci, 2000; Deci & 193
  • 193. Ryan, 2000; Ryan & Connell, 1989). The difference between the aforementionedintrojected regulation and the identified regulation can be explained by referring tothe difference between task-driven transfer of knowledge and free-choice transfer ofknowledge (Pugh & Bergin, 2005). Task-driven transfer refers to situations in whichknowledge learned in school is transferred to out-of-school experiences as a means toan end, for example to complete an assignment or to fulfil a task. It is thus subject tointrojected regulation since the individual is not in school at the moment he is usingthe knowledge, so the regulation is not external, but he is not using the knowledge outof his own free will, so the regulation is not identified. Free-choice transfer refers tosituations ““in which the context affords transfer but the transfer is not needed toengage in the activity”” (Pugh & Bergin, 2005, p. 17) Pugh and Bergin (2005) give anexample of how this free-choice transfer takes place: when an individual visits the zoo,he is not required to apply the ideas he has learned in biology classes in school.However, because of the classes, he may have become intrigued by ideas on animalsand how they adapt to their environment and be motivated to learn more about thisprocess in the zoo. Reasons falling in the category identified regulation can often beexpressed with claims like ‘‘Because I want...’’, ‘‘Because I think it is important to...’’,‘‘Because I am interested in...’’, because they refer to self-valued goals of personalimportance (Ryan & Connell, 1989). Finally, the most autonomous or self-determinedform of extrinsic motivation is integrated regulation. The identified regulation is nowfully assimilated to the self, which means it is evaluated and brought into congruencewith one’’s other values and goals. In other words: there is not only identification withthe value and importance of the behaviour, but the identification becomes part of theidentity of the individual (Ryan & Deci, 2000; Deci & Ryan, 2000).Shifting from external regulation to integrated regulation in figure 4.3, there is anincrease of autonomy and ownership of the behaviour (Deci & Ryan, 2000). In termsof autonomy, the integrated form of extrinsic motivation is very similar to intrinsicmotivation. The difference between integrated and intrinsic behaviour is based on thefact that with integrated regulation the behaviour is still extrinsically motivated,meaning that the activity is performed in order to attain some separable outcome.Intrinsic motivation means that no separable outcome is sought, but that an activity isperformed for the inherent satisfaction and enjoyment of the activity itself (Ryan &Deci, 2000). The increased autonomy and ownership for regulations with an internal 194
  • 194. 4 | Effects of experienceperceived locus of causality (I-PLOC), means that effects of experiences that havea relatively high I-PLOC, cannot be forced upon individuals. Individuals havemuch autonomy and ownership and therefore have a big impact on the effectsthemselves. Marketing and business scholars in the field of the experienceeconomy, often focus on the management of experiential effects as I stated inchapter 2. The objectivistic perspective that is taken in this literature as I stated inchapter 2, can be related to actions resulting in an external perceived locus ofcausality. If organizations focus on sending, staging, producing and making stimuliwith which to stimulate the sensations and emotions of individuals, they are trying toinfluence the individual from the outside, hence the focus on E-PLOC. However, themore one shifts to the right on the spectrum of experience-concepts, the more difficultit becomes to maintain this focus on an external perceived locus of causality.Organizations can undoubtedly confront individuals with certain stimuli resulting inpredictable effects to a certain degree. When individuals are confronted with the icein an icebar, the well probably sense the cold and when they are surrounded by firethey will probably feel the heat. However, how they experience these sensations andwhat, if any, emotions are evoked by the experience, cannot be completely managed.Therefore, the more that one shifts to the right on the spectrum of experienceconcepts, the more the focus should be on I-PLOC, not E-PLOC. Attention for I-PLOC should be greatest in meaningful and integrative experience because when itcomes to learning and changing one’’s interpretive framework the organization onlyhas a limited impact on the effect that the individual experiences (see figure 4.4).Secondary Primary Emotional Meaningful Integrativeexperience experience experience experience experienceE-PLOC I-PLOCFigure 4.4 –– Locus of causality for different concepts of experienceThe importance of the degree of autonomy of behaviour and the positive effects ofautonomy have been studied extensively in many different fields of research rangingfrom sports to religion, from political issues to health-related behaviour, and from 195
  • 195. New Years’’ resolutions to education (Deci & Ryan, 2000). In terms of positive effectsin the context of learning, autonomy has been found to be related to creativity,conceptual understanding, cognitive flexibility, improved problem-solving and anoverall better performance of activities that require attention, creativity andresourcefulness (Deci & Ryan, 2000; Benware & Deci, 1984; Deci, Koestner &Richard, 2001; Zuckerman, Porac, Lahtin, Smith & Deci, 1978; Amabile, 1998). Thishas in fact been one of the reasons for theorists to investigate the way in which theinternalization of regulations can be improved and behaviour can be moreautonomous (Ryan & Deci, 2000).According to the Self-Determination Theory, autonomy is an essential, but not theonly basic need that has to be supported and fulfilled for a regulation to beinternalized. A second basic need is competence. The individual has to be able tounderstand the regulation that he is expected to internalize and he has to be able todo so. Providing him with a meaningful rationale of the regulation and taking care ofthe balance between his skills and the challenge he is presented with, are thus veryimportant (Ryan & Deci, 2000). Studies have shown that when individualsunderstand the way in which the regulation can help them, they become moreengaged and involved with it, with many positive effects for their performance. Astudy of Benware and Deci (1984) for example describes an experiment in which onegroup of students is asked to read a text with the aim of answering questions on anexam, and the other group is asked to read the same text with the aim of teaching thecontents to other students. Results showed that the latter group performed muchbetter in terms of process learning (learning how to learn), while both groupsperformed equally on the level of rote learning. Both groups were extrinsicallymotivated, but the difference appeared to result from the active orientation that thegroup that was asked to teach the material had. Because of this active orientation, thematerial was more internalized by individuals in this group, than it was by individualsin the group that was told they would be tested. Similar to what educationalpsychologists as Marton and Säljö (1976a; 1976b) have indicated: the rationale that isgiven for engaging in an activity influences the expectations of individuals and affectstheir behaviour. The balance between the skills of the individual and the challenge heis presented with has been extensively studied in the context of flow experiences. Toomuch challenge relative to a person’’s skills leads to anxiety and disengagement, 196
  • 196. 4 | Effects of experiencewhereas too little leads to boredom and alienation. Success at optimallychallenging tasks is what allows people to feel a true sense of competence.The third basic need is relatedness. This need refers to the desire to feel connectedto others and to integrate oneself within the social community (Deci & Ryan,2000). Relationships with others should be supportive, secure and trusting,because otherwise it would be difficult for individuals to express their autonomyand competence. Fulfilling the need for relatedness is possible by recognizing theinner feelings and experiences of the individual and taking his perspective. Althoughthere are situations in which one can imagine that relatedness is less central than theother basic needs, for example activities that one engages in alone (Deci & Ryan,2000), the alleged decrease in trust within relationships that nowadays is receivingmore and more attention (e.g. Zuboff & Maxmin, 2002; Singh, Jayanti, Kilgore,Agarwal & Gandarvakottai, 2005; Shore, 2003a), may be a reason for paying specialattention to this need.By focusing on the fulfilment of all of these three basic needs, autonomy, competence,and relatedness, external regulations can become more and more internalized, whichmay cause the individual to become more involved in the experience, and the effectsto last longer. By maintaining a focus on an objectivistic stance towards the effects andtrying to ‘‘send’’ effects to individuals or manage effects without paying attention to theinternalization of the regulations, the organization focuses more on a convergent formof meaning-making and takes a surface approach to the meaning that is constructed,The individual is urged to construct or better said reproduce the meaning that theorganization has chosen for him. First of all the construction of meaning is never aone-way process of one party sending a meaning and the other party taking it in as Ihave argued in this chapter, but second of all, the deep approach of divergentlearning will lead to more relevant and long-lasting effects for the individual.4.5 CONCLUSIONThe problem of which the effect-centred approach of experience suffers as I argued inchapter 2 is a bias in the discourse of business and marketing scholars who focusprimarily on the role of organizations in managing and producing predeterminedhedonic effects, hereby neglecting the role of the individual and the existence of other 197
  • 197. effects. The research question I therefore wanted to answer in this chapter is ““Whichkinds of effects can experiences have from an individual’’s perspective?”” Table 4.5contains my answer to this research question, relating the different effects that havebeen discussed in this chapter to the five concepts of experience that were presentedin chapter 3.Experiential l V Secondary S Primary Emotional Meaningful Integrative concepts I e experience experience experience experience experience C Narrow Broad A definition: definition: Less immediate effects likePsychological R al I sensory pleasure in for example happiness or effects O X pleasure general eudaimonia. U S Hedonic effects Interpretive Focus E Signifier/ Potential carrier of meaning S Signified framework F F Learning of Learning of E the first the second Learning C Learning of the nullth n/a order; order; effects T order S Convergent Divergent learning learning Surface approach Deep approachApproach to to learning to learning learningPerceivedLocus of E-PLOC I-PLOCCausalityTable 4.5 –– Spectrum of experience effects 198
  • 198. 4 | Effects of experienceFirst I have shown why a focus on purely hedonic effects causes a lack of attentionfor other positive but less immediate effects, like eudaimonic effects, knowledgeand skills. I have done this by first exploring the three points of critique onhedonism that can be deduced from Nozick’’s (1975) thought experiment ‘‘TheExperience Machine’’. Based on this thought experiment one can ask whetherhuman beings would be content living a life in which they are only confrontedwith man-made appearances and without actual contact with the raw material.Another question is whether it would be enough for individuals to passivelyexperience pleasurable sensations and not actually do something themselves. A thirdquestion I discussed was whether human beings can be considered as being merecollectors of ever more and ever more intense effects and sensations. According tocritics of hedonism, for example the eudaimonists, the answer to these three questionsis a clear no and I have explained why in the discussion of the eudaimonic philosophy.Consequently I have argued that effects cannot be fully produced and managed by anorganization since they are constructions of meaning by individuals. The shift in focusfrom mere sensations and pleasurable effects to the construction of meaning andlearning also follows the definitions of experience that are focused on the effects forthe individual presented in paragraph 2.3. Organisations can provide individuals withsignifiers or potential carriers of meaning but they cannot produce or manage somepredetermined signified. Trying to produce and manage a predetermined signifiedindicates a focus on convergent thinking. Current literature on the experienceeconomy shows a lack of attention for divergent learning, since its focus is onachieving a predetermined goal, for example to cause the individual to laugh, to feelexcited or to be in awe. This focus is in line with the surface approach to learning, inwhich the goal is for the individual to gain, memorize, reproduce or apply apredetermined effect or message of another party. A divergent attitude on the otherhand is related to the deep approach to learning, which leads to more meaningfullearning and longer-lasting effects. I therefore plead for organizations to support theindividual in taking a deep approach to learning in the experience and herebystimulate divergent thinking. The locus of causality, which in the current business andmarketing literature in the field of the experience economy is often still mainlyexternal, should become more internal, by focusing more on the autonomy,relatedness and competence of the individual in the experience. 199
  • 199. C HAPT E R 5 Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.Q U O T E H A N G I N G I N E I N S T E I N ’ S O F F I C E AT P R I N C E T O N 200
  • 200. Values ofexperiencein anintegrativetheory Chapters Chapter 6: 3, 4 & 5: Existential- Experience spectrum phenomenological with insights into: interviews Concepts (ch.3) Effects (ch.4) Values (ch.5) Chapter 2: Chapter 7:3 approaches in current Themes emergedliterature on experience: from interviews: Environment centred Engagement Effect centred Direction Encounter centred Chapter 8: Investment Sound and integrative theoretical foundation for experience economy from the individual’s perspective 201
  • 201. 5.1 INTRODUCTIONIn this chapter I will discuss the one-sidedness of literature on the experienceeconomy pertaining to the encounter-centred approach. First of all I will explain whatI see as the problem of this approach: the biased discourse of business and marketingscholars who focus primarily on the role of organizations in determining which valuesshould be invested during the experience-encounter, hereby neglecting values thatindividuals invest in the encounter beyond financial values. The question I willtherefore answer in this chapter is: ““Which types of values do individuals invest in theexperience?”” First I will explain that specific characteristics of experiences causetraditional ways of determining value from the organization’’s perspective to beinappropriate. The traditional view on value determination is not appropriate forexperiences because it is focused on 1) a negative relation between value invested andvalue perceived by individuals, 2) rival and excludable values only, and 3) aperception of value as dependent on expectations. In paragraph 5.2 I will discuss thistraditional view on value determination and address these three problems. Inparagraph 5.3 I will introduce a value theory that has been central in valuephilosophy, namely the value theory of Ralph Barton Perry (1876-1956), which givesa different insight into what actually happens during the experience encounter andhow one should deal with the values that individuals invest. Perry’’s (1954)conceptualizations of values as objects of interest, practical and non-practical interestsand internally practical and non-practical resources, help in understanding whatexactly takes place during the encounter between an individual and his or herenvironment. These concepts are useful for counterbalancing the current bias in theencounter-centred approach of the experience economy discourse and give anindication for three possible roles that organizations can play in the creation of valuein the experience economy. I will discuss these roles in paragraph 5.4. 202
  • 202. 5 | Values of experience5.2 APPROPRIATENESS OF TRADITIONAL THEORIES ON VALUEDETERMINATION IN AN EXPERIENCE CONTEXTAs I explained in chapter 2, the encounter-centred approach is focused on theexchanges between the individual and his environment. Often in literature withinthis approach the interaction that is dealt with is the exchange of value betweenthe customer and the ‘‘experience-provider’’. In fact, the exchanges of value and thechanges that these have undergone over time, are often used as the reason why thereis now so much attention for the experience economy. Pine and Gilmore (1999) forexample, explain how the commoditization within the service-economy results in alower perception of value by the customer, and a need for companies to customizetheir offerings, in the way that is described by Heskett et al’’s (1997) Customer ValueEquation (see figure 5.1). (Results produced for the customer + Process quality) Value = ———————————————————————————————————————————— (Price to the customer + Costs of acquiring the service)Figure 5.1 –– Customer Value Equation (Heskett et al, 1997, p.40)According to the Customer Value Equation of Heskett et al. (1997), the valueperceived by the customer is a relation between the results produced for the customer,the quality of the process with which these results were delivered, the price thecustomer has to pay and the other costs he has to endure to be able to acquire theservice. As can be seen in the equation, the value for the customer increases when hereceives more or better results, the quality of the process is better, the price he has topay is lower, and/or he has to make less effort to acquire the service. If the resultsand/or the process in the numerator of the equation are positively influenced bycustomizing the offering, then the perceived value will increase according to themodel, providing an opportunity for increasing the price or costs in the denominator.I see three problems concerning the use of the customer value equation in anexperience economy (see table 5.1). 203
  • 203. 1 2 3 Can the Do the values Are rivalry and individuals that individuals expectations be excludability invest decrease appropriate Problem taken into or increase the concepts in an account in the perceived value experience evaluation of in the experiences? economy? encounter?Table 5.1 –– Problems related to the organizational perspective in the encounter-centred approachFirst of all, according to many theories the perceived value, represented in thecustomer value equation, is only one part of how individuals determine whether theyare satisfied with what they have received. Whether an individual is satisfied withwhat he receives also depends on what he was expecting to receive. However,determining what these expectations are is difficult because of the specificcharacteristics of experiences as I will discuss, so in a new theory on the value ofexperiences this lack of clear expectations should be taken into account.The second problem with the traditional way of viewing the experience-encounter isthat the current focus on rivalry and excludability in the experience economy is notappropriate. The specific characteristics of experiences indicate that more attentionhas to be paid to non-rivalry and non-excludability, if one wishes to understand whathappens during the encounter between an individual and his or her environment.The third problem is that current business and marketing literature on experiences isprimarily focused on what the organization can do to increase the perceived value forindividuals. The elements in the equation are primarily under control of the provideraccording to Heskett et al (1997) so from this perspective the organization has tooptions to increase perceived value: either by improving the elements of thenumerator by enhancing and /or customizing their offerings, or by decreasing theelements in the denominator by lowering the required investment by individuals.However, certain investments made by the individual do not decrease his perception 204
  • 204. 5 | Values of experienceof value, but may even increase it. The value equation that is useful forunderstanding how individuals perceive service value therefore appears to bemuch less appropriate for understanding how they perceive the value of theirexperiences. Especially in experience-encounters, it is not the organization orprovider that determines how much and what kind of value is invested andcreated, but the individual him- or herself. In the following subparagraphs I willaddress these three problems.5.2.1 VALUE AS PERCEPTION MINUS EXPECTATIONMuch research has been published on what the quality or value of service from theperspective of customers consists of. A well-known and often-used model formeasuring the quality of services is SERVQUAL, which breaks down the serviceprocess in five dimensions and takes into account the fact that the customer’’sevaluation depends on the comparison of his perception of what was received withwhat was expected by the customer (Zeithaml, Parasuraman & Berry, 1990).Zeithaml et al’’s (1990) SERVQUAL theory states that not just the perception of valueshould be taken into consideration, but also the expected value. The expectations ofindividuals of what they wish to receive from the organization are an important factorin the determination of the value that the individual has received. If perception andexpectation can be measured on a scale of 1 to 10, one can imagine that the value ofan offering with a score 7 for perceived value results in a different experience of valueif a score of 9 was expected than if a score of 6 was expected.In fact, Fournier and Mick call this line of thought ““the dominant paradigm ofsatisfaction and its competing models (i.e., those based on the confirmation/disconfirmation of pre-consumption standards”” (1999, p. 5). However, for experiencesthese ‘‘pre-consumption standards’’ or expectations are often not as clear as they arefor services. According to many authors the elements of spontaneity, novelty andsurprise are important in experiences (e.g. Fournier & Mick, 1999; Poulsson & Kale,2004; Privette & Landsman, 1983; Arnould & Price, 1993) and in their discussion ofextraordinary experiences, Arnould and Price (1993) reflect on why the expectationsof customers are likely to be vague. Consumers don’’t know which choice they havebetween consumption alternatives, and the effects of experiences are personal and 205
  • 205. subjective which makes it hard for consumers to predict them. The productclassification theory, also called the Search-Experience-Credence (SEC) framework(Animesh, Ramachandran & Viswanathan, 2005), may help in explaining whyexpectations for experiences are usually vague and why it is therefore difficult to usetraditional expectation-based models for determining perceived value for theevaluation of experiences.THE SEC FRAMEWORKSearch, experience, and credence goods are characterized by different levels of qualityuncertainty (Animesh, Ramachandran & Viswanathan, 2005). The terms characterizethe moment in the purchase process when consumers can accurately assess whetherthe good actually possesses the expected level of attributes, for example becauseexpectations have been influenced by promises that have been made in advertising(Ford, Smith & Swasy, 1990). In fact the origins of this theory lie in the advertisingcontext.Nelson (1970), deriving from Stigler’’s (1961) explanation of the ““search”” phenomenaand the theory of economics of information, was the first to distinguish betweensearch goods and experience goods. Search and experience, according to Nelson(1970) are two ways in which a consumer gains